WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is traveling to New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to tour areas devastated by the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Ida, using the trip to highlight climate change and underscore the importance of passing his infrastructure bill in order to help communities better prepare for extreme weather events.
The president met with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, local officials and members of Congress at the Somerset County Emergency Management Training Center in Manville, N.J., where he was briefed on the damage caused by the powerful storm. Biden will later visit the New York City borough of Queens.
“We’re living through it now. We don’t have any more time,” Biden said of the effects of climate change. “Every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather. We can’t turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse.”
The visit is Biden’s second such trip after Ida made landfall in Louisiana last week and later flooded the Northeast with torrential rainfall, leaving more than 60 people dead, including 27 in New Jersey and 13 people in New York City.
The storm drowned dozens of people in their cars. Others were swept away by floodwaters, killed by a falling tree or submerged by rising water in basement apartments.
“I’m hoping to be able to see the things we are going to be able to fix permanently with the bill that we have in for infrastructure,” Biden told reporters before leaving the White House.
Climate change and Biden’s domestic agenda
Biden’s visit comes as he’s pushing for congressional approval of a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan that includes several items aimed at tackling climate change.
The president is expected to highlight that one in three Americans live in counties that have been impacted by severe weather events in recent months and 100 million Americans have been affected by extreme weather this summer, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“The average costs of extreme weather is getting bigger, and no one is (free) from climate change, and that’s what you’ll hear him talk about in his remarks today,” Psaki said.
She said the federal government is going to ensure communities affected by last week’s flooding have what they need to recover.
Biden approved major disaster declarations for six New Jersey counties and five New York counties, making federal aid available for those communities that suffered catastrophic flooding from the remnants of Ida.
Last week Biden traveled to Louisiana, where he met with Gov. John Bel Edwards and other local officials to tour a neighborhood inundated by storm surge flooding. Hurricane Ida left at least 13 people dead and thousands of residents without power more than a week after it first made landfall in Louisiana.
“Hurricane Ida is another reminder that we need to be prepared for the next hurricane and superstorms that are going to come, and they’re going to come more frequently and more ferociously,” Biden said Friday after touring a neighborhood.
As of now, Ida is the deadliest hurricane the U.S. has seen in four years and the deadliest storm in the Northeast since 2012’s catastrophic Superstorm Sandy, which killed more than 100 people.
Contributing: Joey Garrison, Grace Hauck and Christine Fernando, USA TODAY