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Extreme weather could be ‘our new normal’: Gov. Hochul

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Burning air, torrential rains — Gov. Kathy Hochul warned Sunday that the region’s recent extreme weather may be “our new normal.

“It may not look bad this moment if you look out the window, but the storms are continuing to surround us, and we are in … what I would call an unstable weather condition,” Hochul said from her Midtown Manhattan office.

“This is possibly our new normal,” she said, adding that the devastating storms that tore through the New York region last week caused about $50 million in damage — while smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires will likely return to choke the northern and western parts of the state Monday.

“This is the kind of weather that — even on what should normally be a beautiful beach-going Sunday in July — can turn into a devastating catastrophe because of Mother Nature,” she said of the deluge of rain.

The governor’s comments come after several weeks of sometimes intense storms that have steamrolled the tri-state area with surprising regularity and at times fatal consequences.


Children played in Domino Park in Brooklyn as the air quality reached dangerous levels because of the Canadian wildfire smoke blowing in.
Children recently played in Domino Park in Brooklyn even as the air quality reached dangerous levels because of Canadian wildfire smoke blowing in.
Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock


Kathy Eason, a worker at the Center for Highland Falls, stands outside the organization's storefront after being trapped inside by floodwaters the previous day, Monday, July 10, 2023, in Highland Falls, N.Y.
Hochul estimated that damages from last week’s area storms may reach $50 million.
AP

A jogger runs under the Manhattan Bridge
Smoky air is likely to return to parts of New York this week.
AFP via Getty Images

A week ago, a New Yorker died after being swept away by floodwaters, and at least four people were killed Saturday during flash floods that ravaged eastern Pennsylvania.

Hochul issued a flood watch for the entire eastern portion of New York on Sunday and urged people to stay home.

New York City and some of the mid-Hudson region were also under a flash-flood watch, which Hochul said is far more serious than a flood warning.

The already-saturated ground can’t hold much water, which means additional rain will likely bring flooding that will be “more intense than usual,” the governor said.


A driver stops on a mud-covered bridge while deciding whether to drive through flood waters of the Winooski River, Wednesday, July 12, 2023, in Montpelier, Vt.
Rain has flooded the entire northeast, including places such as Vermont — which was recently battered by what was typically two months’ worth of rain in two days.
AP

Two feet of water running at 2 miles an hour can wash a car away, she said.

Although first responders stand ready, they don’t need to get involved in “unnecessary rescues,” the governor said.

“A flash flood doesn’t give you a warning – it comes literally in a flash,” she said. “In those moments, your car can go from a place of safety to a place of death.

“We cannot control what waters will do as they start to rise and can trap you in your own vehicle –especially if you’re traveling with family members, especially if you’re traveling with children,” the governor added.


Smoke from wildfires in Canada shrouds the Statue of Liberty on June 30, 2023 in New York City
Hochul said extreme weather may become the “new normal” for New Yorkers.
Getty Images

Hocul said electric crews are still working to restore power to thousands in Duchess and Sullivan counties.

Meanwhile, the state has thousands of utility workers, 3,500 sandbags, tons of sand and several swift-water rescue boats prepared to respond if things get bad again.

The governor added that she’s seeking a major disaster declaration from the Biden administration to help pay for the extensive damages.

“It just seems unrelenting this year,” Hochul said of weather issues. “It seems Mother Nature is not done with us just yet.”

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