President Joe Biden was in town on Tuesday touring parts of New York and New Jersey that were battered by Tropical Storm Ida last week. After arriving at JFK Airport this morning, the president traveled to Hillsborough Township, NJ, before returning to Queens to meet with locals and address the continuing fallout from the storm.
“I wish every American could walk down this alley with me and see and talk to people who have been devastated, just talk to them,” Biden said in Queens. “None of them were shouting or complaining. Every one of them was thanking me that I was here, and hoping I could do something…Sometimes, some very bad things happen that have a tendency to bring out the best in a people and a country.”
“Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, our economy,” he said. “The threat is here. It’s not going to get any better. The question is, can it get worse? We can stop it from getting worse. When I talk about building back better, I mean you can’t build it like it was before this last storm.” Experts “all tell us this is code red. The nation and the world are in peril. That’s not hyperbole. That is a fact.”
He vowed to continue making climate change and the fallout from events like this a priority for his administration: “My message to everyone grappling with this devastation: we’re here, we’re not going home until this gets done. We’ll continue to shout until we get real progress here.”
Biden was joined in New York by Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Reps. Grace Meng and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other local pols while appearing in East Elmhurst Tuesday afternoon. Schumer thanked him for declaring an emergency so quickly, lending resources to the city, and coming here “without anyone having to…bother him to come.”
Biden also recommended people in need of assistance visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-FEMA (3362).
Cameron Jones, a 17-year-old activist with Sunrise Movement from Kew Gardens, was among a few dozen climate activists who staked out the permitter in East Elmhurst around Biden.
“Climate change is here it’s not something in the future,” he said. “We saw mass flooding, we saw wildfires in the west, we so many other things that happened, record heat waves. This is not gonna get better any time soon. We have to act now.”
Another person in attendance was Marwa Answar, 23, who lives two blocks away from where Biden spoke. She said her basement flooded last week, though it wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened to many of her neighbors, whose homes were destroyed in the storm. “We’re just happy that he came and saw what happened here and hopefully we get the funding,” she said of Biden’s visit.
Answar’s father, an Uber driver, got stuck on Grand Central Parkway during the storm; his car is now ruined, and insurance won’t cover the thousands of dollars it’ll cost to replace the engine. “He’s trying to figure out what to do,” she added.
Earlier in the day, Biden, accompanied by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Cory Booker, and other elected officials, toured an emergency management training center and a neighborhood in Manville. While some Trump supporters heckled him from afar, Biden visited with families and spoke with those affected by the flooding.