NYC lawmakers grill officials over Ida response, lack of evacuation alerts

Local News

NEW YORK — In the aftermath of Ida, New York City was still cleaning up parts of the hardest hit areas on Tuesday.

Just two weeks ago, residents across the city feared for their lives, and subway stations and roads were inundated, as floodwaters rose.

New York City Council members say more could have been done to alleviate Ida’s catastrophic damage to homes, cars and lives.

To make sure the city is better prepared ahead of the next severe weather event, members of three City Council committees spent hours on Tuesday asking several administrators and the MTA what plans are in place to prevent more damage down the road. 

Council member and Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez was among the lawmakers grilling administrators.

“At what time did the homeowners receive a notice that their basements could be at risk?” he asked.

Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani offered a chilling response.

“Did we put out one that said specifically evacuate your basement, no we did not,” he said.

Scrivani said around 30 messages went out, but there were no evacuation alerts.

These notices — along with public housing issues, a 100-year-old sewer system and poor infrastructure — were several concerns raised during the oversight hearing.

Council chairs heard testimony from city administrators on ways to improve systems before, during and after a storm, from affordable flood insurance plans to supplementing the sewer system.

Currently, the sewer system can only hold around one-and-a-quarter inch of rainfall an hour. Officials also said it would be too expensive to rip out the more than 7,000 miles of sewer pipes throughout the five boroughs.

Regarding emergencies in the subway system, MTA leaders said they’ve reestablished a task force to improve the drainage system underground and better protect commuters.

Throughout the hearing, climate change was frequently addressed as a main reason why emergency preparedness is a shared priority, before the next storm strikes.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify several quotes.

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