NEW YORK - President Joe Biden on Tuesday surveyed the damage in parts of the northeast that suffered catastrophic flash flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Biden toured Manville, New Jersey, and East Elmhurst, Queens.
"Wish I were here under different circumstances, but you really took a hit and New Jersey took a hit," Biden said. "We're going to make sure the relief is equitable so that those hardest hit get what they need. And we know there's a lot more to do, and that's why we're here."
The president's first stop was with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials at the Somerset County Emergency Management Center in Hillsborough Township.
"Every part of the country, every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather," Biden said in a briefing at the center, calling for federal spending to fortify the nation's infrastructure so it can better withstand such powerful storms.
The president said the U.S. and the world must deal with climate change and its effects, such as intensifying wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and more.
"We can't turn it back very much but we can prevent it from getting worse," Biden said. "We don't have any more time."
The help can't come soon enough for homeowners who are desperate to rebuild.
"I hope he realizes what we are going through and he's actually going to do something, it is not just here to show face," Daniel Lopez of Manville said.
Later, Biden visited residents of a block in East Elmhurst who are picking up after flash flooding. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and several other elected officials.
"The threat is here. It is not getting any better," Biden said in Queens. "The question is can it get worse. We can stop it from getting worse."
At least 50 people were killed in six Eastern states as record rainfall last week overwhelmed rivers and sewer systems. Some people were trapped in fast-filling basement apartments and cars, or were swept away as they tried to escape. The storm also spawned several tornadoes.
More than half of those deaths, 27, were recorded in New Jersey. In New York City, 13 people were killed, including 11 in Queens.
Manville, situated along New Jersey's Raritan River, is almost always hard-hit by major storms. It was the scene of catastrophic flooding in 1998 as the remnants of Tropical Storm Floyd swept over New Jersey. It also sustained serious flooding during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Biden has approved major disaster declarations, making federal aid available for people in six New Jersey counties and five New York counties affected by the devastating floods.
President Joe Biden talks with people as he tours a neighborhood impacted by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
He encouraged anyone who had not yet registered for federal aid to do so at DisasterAssistance.gov.
Both Murphy and de Blasio spent part of Labor Day touring damaged communities. Deanne Criswell, the former city emergency management director who's now in charge at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, joined the mayor.
Murphy said he would speak with Biden on Tuesday about adding other New Jersey counties to the disaster declaration.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop called on Murphy to declare Hudson County a disaster area.
"Governor - It is absolutely crazy/shameful that Hudson County was not included in this list. We got the storm as bad as any NJ county with higher density in population. I urge you to work with our federal reps to fix this," Fulop wrote on Twitter.
President Joe Biden talks with a person as he tours a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, in Manville, N.J. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, left, and Somerset County Commissioner President Shanel Robinson, right, look on. (AP
Scientists say climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather events, including large tropical storms that swirl into powerful hurricanes.
Ida was the fifth-most powerful storm to hit the U.S. when it made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29. The storm's remnants dropped devastating rainfall across parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, causing significant disruption in major cities.
With The Associated Press.