New York City rejected every flooding claim from Hurricane Ida, report says

·3 min read

As Hurricane Ida swept through New York City last year and dumped half a foot (15 centimetres) of rain in one day, many parts of the city saw devastating flooding.

More than a dozen people died, many of them trapped in basement apartments, as the waters rushed through the city – while others were left with damaged properties in dire need of repairs.

But new reporting from The City found that the New York city government has denied thousands of claims against the city for flood damage.

In fact, the news outlet reports, the city has denied every single one of the claims — all 4,703 of them — residents had made regarding flooding from Ida.

The claims in question were based on alleged negligence by the city when it came to sewer maintenance, The City explains.

The comptroller’s office based their decisions to reject these claims based on a 1907 ruling from the New York State Supreme Court which found that city governments are not responsible for damage from “excessive rainfalls,” the report adds.

The City reports that the comptroller’s office said it investigated each claim to determine if city negligence was at fault.

It also reports that, in the letters denying the claims, Comptroller Brad Lander suggested the city find ways to help New Yorkers “navigate the complex array of relief programs and insurance paperwork that follow natural disasters,” among other potential disaster relief support programs.

In response to this reporting, some local politicians took to social media.

“Queens is not dealing with the rainfall from 1907, so we should not be using precedent from 1907 to deny people relief,” tweeted New York State Senator Jessica Ramos, whose Queens-based district had some of the worst flooding in the city.

“To expect low-income communities of color to litigate their way into relief when we know the next hurricane is coming is not going to work.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng, who represents part of Queens in the US House of Representatives, called for updates and fixes to the sewage system.

“NYC/NYS should use the billions of infrastructure $ we in Congress secured to fix our sewer infrastructure,” Ms Meng tweeted. “New Yorkers experience flooded homes even without “excessive rain”. My constituents, including the families of those who died don’t have time for this blame game.”

Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana as a Category 4 storm in late August last year, wreaking havoc on many communities in the lower Mississippi Delta, including New Orleans.

But as the remnants of the storm passed through the country, the storm continued to create damage in its wake, especially in the New York City area, which saw some of the worst impacts.

In total, Ida left at least 91 people dead, most of whom lived in the northeast.

Hurricanes are expected to get stronger as the climate crisis grows. Higher temperatures can power storms to greater intensity as they cross over warm oceans and gather more rain and wind.

While this year’s hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean has gotten off to a slow start, with only three named storms so far. But the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said earlier this month that it still expects an “above-average” hurricane season in the Atlantic, with between 14 and 20 named storms.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic typically peaks between August and October.