President Joe Biden is expected to visit parts of Queens and New Jersey where flooding from Tropical Storm Ida left a wide swath of destruction and killed dozens of people overnight Wednesday. His visit marks his first official stop to New York City as president.
The White House issued a press release Saturday saying Biden will visit Queens and Manville in Somerset County, New Jersey on September 7th. The release did not specify where in Queens Biden is planning to visit.
Residents of Manville in Somerset County suffered widespread flooding after an estimated 10 inches of rain fell in three hours, and several homes and businesses burned down in fires. NJ.com reported that “the Raritan River...hit 26.85 feet at 6 a.m Wednesday in Manville, more than 12 feet over its flood stage of 14 feet.” The state’s death toll from the storm was 25, officials said Saturday, with six people reported missing.
The devastation from Ida was felt throughout Queens, where 11 people were reported killed, including a two-year-old in Woodside and an 86-year-old woman in Elmhurst. Many of the deaths occurred in the borough's often unregulated basement dwellings -- in Jamaica, a 43-year-old mother and her 22 year-old son died after becoming trapped in a basement apartment on 183rd street where the road sloped downhill. Mayor Bill de Blasio said city officials will implement travel bans, door-to-door efforts to evacuate basement residents, and specially directed phone alerts in the future.
More than 1,000 people were rescued in Queens during the flooding, and nearly 500 vehicles were left abandoned, police said. Two other people died in the city from the floodwaters.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Biden approved an Emergency Disaster Declaration for counties affected by the torrential rains and flooding, including all five boroughs of New York City.
"As Downstate areas recover from this extreme weather event, I have requested and secured an Emergency Disaster Declaration from the federal government that will help provide localities with funding and relief in the initial restoration efforts. I will continue to urge the federal government to expedite the damage assessment process to provide all the federal resources available to ensure New Yorkers get what they need to recover from this historic storm," Hochul said in a release Friday.
This visit to New York City will be Biden’s first as president. In an address on Thursday, Biden said that he had “made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed."