Date: 2021-09-27 20:48:45
If only he’d just listened the first time …
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday proposed a city-run weather tracking system to supplement the National Weather Service’s alerts — even though NWS issued warnings about the heavy flooding from Hurricane Ida that Hizzoner failed to heed before the tempest killed 13 New Yorkers earlier this month.
“What we’re realizing now is — even with the information we get from the National Weather service — we’re going to have to be much more cautious because the warnings we get are not sufficient, so we’re going to be upgrading our own storm tracking and alerting systems, building our own state of the art modeling,” said de Blasio at his daily press briefing.
“We have to do that here in New York City, I appreciate the federal government, I think they need to make a lot more investment — this is something Sen. Schumer has talked about — a lot more investment in the modeling and the projecting so they can prepare people all over this country for these crises,” he added.
“But we’ve got to do it ourselves in the meantime, and particularly focus on being able to warn people as early as humanely possible.”
The proposed redundant weather tracking system was featured in a report, “The New Normal: Combatting Storm-Related Extreme Weather in New York City.”
According to the 66-page blueprint, the system would be put in place via an “immediate” partnership with a “private weather forecasting service,” beginning on an unspecified date in October.
Mayoral spokespeople did not provide a dollar figure for the initiative.
De Blasio compared the potentially duplicative system to the city’s post 9/11 counterterrorism efforts that added duties to the NYPD that the federal government already performed.
“It often given us info we wouldn’t have gotten any other place, bluntly, more urgent info, because it was us protecting ourselves,” said the mayor.
A Democratic lawmaker was unimpressed by the proposed response to the storm.
“The U.S. is still in hurricane season, so the City needs urgent action yesterday — now — to truly prepare people to understand what another Ida can do and what New Yorkers can do to protect themselves,” Councilman Francisco Moya (D- Queens) told The Post. “It’s not just about blaming the weather service or creating our own system. Reports are great but we need real action now.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio on Monday continued to criticize national forecasters — despite the National Weather Service warning of the significant impact of the storm hours before rain clobbered the five boroughs and the mayor not responding to their alerts.
“The National Weather Service, they do good and important work, but we’ve too often found the reports were too vague or too late, and we need something more urgent,” said the mayor. “So my simple summary would be having a private forecasting capacity to just be that second set of eyes, just like you’d go to a second opinion with a doctor, to tell us if what we’re seeing from the National Weather Service looks like the whole story, where there’s a possibility of things happening earlier, a higher impact, what level of alert we should go to, someone dedicated to thinking from the New York City perspective, not the whole nation perspective.”
But the National Weather Service did not fail to warn Big Apple residents.
On Sept 1., NWS forecast “life-threatening flash flooding” more than five hours before the remnants of Hurricane Ida began hitting the city. At 3:23 p.m. on Sept. 1, the NWS Weather Prediction Center tweeted a color-coded map showing that New York City was in the area facing the “greatest flash flood threat over the next several hours” from the expected downpour.
“SIGNIFICANT AND LOCALLY LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODING IS EXPECTED GOING INTO THE EVENING HOURS,” a message in bright purple letters atop the image alerted.
On Sept. 1, NWS also pushed five Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) in English and Spanish to all cell phones in New York City that read: “WEA Flash Flood Warning (Considerable) for all of SI 9/1/2021 8:41 PM WEA Flash Flood Emergency (Catastrophic) Warning for all of SI 9/1/2021 8:59 PM WEA Flash Flood Warning (Considerable) for all of BK, BX, MN, QN 9/1/2021 9:06 PM WEA Tornado Warning for the BX & Northern MN 9/1/2021 9:28 PM WEA Flash Flood Emergency Warning (Catastrophic) for all of BK, BX, MN, QN.”
But that day, instead of focusing on the storm, de Blasio made an appearance about 7:30 p.m. on the NBC streaming service “Peacock,” used the time to bash ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, without uttering a word about the torrential rain that was about to hit the Big Apple.
The vast majority of the victims of the storm were Queens residents trapped in their basement apartments as the rain flooded city streets, bringing subway service to a halt and submerging vehicles. Potentially dangerous below-ground dwellings were not mentioned in the mayor’s report, but he on Monday called for state law to be amended so that city inspectors can more easily enter New Yorkers’ homes.
“I have been at town hall meetings where people say there’s a problem the house next door, there’s a safety problem a health problem for our community, and we send over inspectors and the inspectors say we can’t gain access,” de Blasio said. “I’ve always thought that’s ridiculous. That’s not the inspector’s fault; that’s the law’s fault. If someone is there from the city to protect the health and safety of the surrounding community, they have to be able to get access.
“We need to change city and or state law to give those inspectors access,” he added. “Because a lot of what they’re going to do keeps people safe and if they cant get in the building. they cant keep people safe.”