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Biden visits neighbourhoods devastated by Storm Ida flooding in New York and New Jersey

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President Joe Biden has arrived in New Jersey on a tour of neighbourhoods in the northeast devastated by Storm Ida.

The president arrived at Central Jersey Airport in Hillsborough Township shortly after 11.30am on Tuesday.

On exiting Marine One, Mr Biden was met by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy and several local leaders.

The president, wearing aviators on a sunny, 80-degree day in the Garden State, spent roughly 10 minutes chatting on the tarmac with the small group.

He did not take questions from press gathered at the airport before leaving by motorcade for the Somerset County Emergency Management Training Center.

The president is scheduled to visit the town of Manville where severe flooding impacted homes and caused several explosions.

He will then travel to the borough of Queens, New York where at least 11 people drowned in basement apartments after being trapped by gushing floodwater.

Mr Biden declared major disasters in New York and New Jersey this weekend, channelling federal aid to help with recovery from the storm.

The federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, the White House said in a statement, along with low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programmes to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

The remnants of powerful Hurricane Ida barrelled across the northeast last week bringing historic levels of rainfall and tornadoes. The storm killed at least 27 people in New Jersey and 13 in New York City.

At least 50 people were killed across six eastern states as some areas received a month’s worth of rain in a matter of hours.

The deluge overwhelmed rivers and decades-old sewer systems. Most of those who died were trapped in basement homes and vehicles, becoming swept away as they tried to escape.

A huge clean-up is underway as abandoned vehicles were towed and water pumped from submerged highways and public transit systems. Residents hauled the ruined contents of their homes onto streets and business owners got to work clearing muck and debris.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul reported that Ida damaged more than 1,200 homes and caused about $50m in damage to public infrastructure and property, following an initial assessment. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said damage to city infrastructure was estimated at $35m.

The White House disaster declarations cover Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties in New Jersey and allow for individual assistance for people in Bronx, Queens, Kings, Richmond and Westchester counties in New York.

Governor Murphy said that he would discuss with President Biden the possibility of expanding the federal aid to more counties.

The Category-4 hurricane made landfall last Sunday close to New Orleans, Louisiana with winds of up to 150mph and several feet of storm surge.

Governors from affected states underlined the role that the climate crisis played in exacerbating the extreme event.

“What I’ve seen in my last seven years are these localised storms, storms that actually in some cases occur outside of flood plains and that cause a lot of damage,” Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf told CNN on Friday.

“You know, it’s climate change.”

The climate crisis is creating conditions which are driving more powerful storms like Ida.

While it’s unclear whether the climate crisis will mean a greater number of hurricanes in the future, scientists have long warned that increased global heating will likely make the storms that we do experience more destructive.

The ocean absorbs over 90 per cent of excess heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions – largely caused from the burning of fossil fuels – and that warm water feeds into hurricanes.

And as the planet heats up, more moisture is held in the atmosphere, meaning storms hold the potential of a lot more rainfall.

Global sea level rise is compounding the danger of storm surge. The sea level off New York’s coast is up to nine inches higher than it was in 1950.

Following Superstorm Sandy nearly a decade ago, New Jersey and New York spent billions of dollars improving flood defences. However, much has focused on protecting communities from coastal surge – not rainfall.

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