Over 20 people died in New Jersey due to the torrential rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida that hit the Garden State.
They were trapped in their homes and cars, unable to escape the rush of flood water that rose quickly.
Homes in South Jersey were destroyed by the multiple tornadoes that touched down. Thankfully no lives were lost as the familiar buzz on our phones warned families to take safety in their basements.
The devastating remnants of Hurricane Ida caused damage the same week a examine of federal data showed New Jersey’s average temperature has warmed faster than that of any other state in the last 100 years. It’s not just you but Summers are becoming hotter, Winters are not as cold and Springs and Falls generally warmer. New Jersey Autumns warmed up by 2.47 degrees, Winters by 2.98 degrees, Springs by 2.10 degrees and Summers by 2.34 based on data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Time has run out on what has caused the Earth to heat up. It is now clearly documented by the cars abandoned on major highways and the 100 year water levels that are now broken with much more frequency. More severe weather is damaging our homes and businesses, affecting our cities, shorelines, and lake communities.
We agree with Rep. Mikie Sherrill when she said this week that “our communities are far too familiar with devastating floods. An event of this magnitude impacts all of us and shows exactly why we need to be making investments in flood resilience, not just in flood recovery. The status quo is clearly untenable, as we are forced to confront the dangerous realities of the climate crisis.”
The status quo is clearly untenable—but it is not just New Jersey. The West is again on fire, causing the evacuation of Lake Tahoe as the Caldor fire has burned more than 200,000 acres. And U.S. officials for the first time in August declared an official water shortage for the massive Lake Mead reservoir, triggering supply cuts to parts of the drought-stricken Southwest. The shortage will reduce water apportionments to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico for the year beginning in October.
Additionally, 10 Western governors urged President Joe Biden to declare a federal drought disaster in their states, qualifying farmers and ranchers to seek special assistance “beyond what is available through existing emergency programs…Historic drought levels threaten to eliminate entire crops, depress yields and harbor extreme levels of pests and disease that add to the cumulative loss.” The losses will lead to an increase at the cash register at you local food store.
The storms in New Jersey come in the wake of Louisiana being battered again, where residents who left to stay out of the way of the hurricane are being told not to come back for at least two weeks due to widespread power outages.
But it should be noted the levees, floodwalls and floodgates that protect New Orleans held up against Ida, passing their toughest test since the federal government spent billions of dollars to upgrade a system that failed when Hurricane Katrina struck 16 years ago.
Gov. Phil Murphy, while speaking about the Garden State but applicable in every corner of the U.S., said we need to invest in infrastructure capable of handling a more violent climate.
As he toured the damage done to the state he governs, Murphy stated New Jersey needs to update its playbook for storm responses as “the world is changing. These storms are coming in more frequently. They’re coming in with more intensity. As it relates to our infrastructure, our resiliency, our whole mindset, the playbook that we use—we have got to leap forward and get out ahead of this.”
The work has started in Washington. As Rep. Josh Gottheimer noted, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses climate change.
“Storms like Ida are getting worse, and we need investment to make New Jersey’s infrastructure more resilient to our changing climate, so that we can better stand up to storms and recover quicker,” said Gottheimer. “We must pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill ASAP.”
This is an issue politicians on the state and federal levels can no longer deny—if they do they are more concerned with ideology then reality. The infrastructure bill is a good first step but must be followed significantly in the reconciliation budget bill that will be written this Fall.
The effects of climate change is the most pressing issue the world faces today and the U.S. must be leaders in setting an agenda that confronts this environment and economic crisis.