Northeast victims working to recover from Ida

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 8:57 PM EDT
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(CNN) - President Biden is set to visit hard-hit communities in New York and New Jersey Tuesday after signing major disaster declarations for parts of those states.

New York officials and FEMA’s administrator toured storm damage in heard-hit Queens Monday as communities across the region begin to put their lives and homes back together after the devastation wrought by the remnants of Ida. “If you drive around Queens, it looks like a bomb went off. Everybody’s personal belongings are out on the street. We just need someone to help us out,” said Barbara Amarantinis, a resident of Queens.

“What we saw today was absolutely heartbreaking. The amount of damage and destruction that these families have experienced,” said Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator.

State and federal officials said help is on the way with President Biden set to visit New York and New Jersey Tuesday after approving federal disaster relief for five New York counties and six in New Jersey to help families and businesses repair and rebuild. “We’re at least $50 million in damages, and we anticipate the numbers to go up, but it did trigger the threshold we are eligible to apply for major declaration assistance,” said New York governor Kathy Hochul.

The true extent of the storm’s impact is still begin realized as Ida claimed the lives of at least 50 people across the region with heartbreaking stories of loss. New York police shared video of their attempt to rescue a Queens couple and their 2-year-old. All three were later found dead in their flooded basement apartment. Two other Queens residents died when a wall in their home collapsed in the flooding.

At least four died in Pennsylvania and at least 27 people lost their lives in New Jersey where New Jersey governor Phil Murphy toured flood damage telling reporters he plans to ask the president to provide federal disaster relief to more counties. “There are 15 other counties in New Jersey and we’re in there fighting on behalf of any of those counties that were impacted,” said New Jersey governor Phil Murphy.

State and local officials are now focused on how to be better prepared for the next storm by improving infrastructure and putting better warning systems in place to alert people of the danger. “We have seawalls that need to be raised. We have sewers that were built 100 years ago. We really need help from the federal government to get back on our feet and to be ready for the future, because we can’t abandon communities like Mamaroneck, New York,” said Tom Murphy, mayor of Mamaroneck, New York.

During his visit, President Biden is expected to speak about the economic impacts of extreme weather and the need for investments in climate change and infrastructure.

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