President Biden declared climate change has become "everybody's crisis" on Tuesday as he toured neighborhoods flooded by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, warning it's time for America to get serious about the "code red" danger or face ever worse loss of life and property. Biden spoke after walking streets in New Jersey and then Queens in New York City, meeting people whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by flooding when Ida barreled through. The storm dumped record amounts of rain onto already saturated ground and was blamed for more than a dozen deaths in the city.
The president said he thinks the damage everyone is seeing, from wildfires in the West to hurricane havoc in the South and Northeast, is turning climate-change skeptics into believers, but that years of unheeded warnings from scientists, economists, and others mean time for action is short, the AP reports. "The threat is here. It is not getting any better,” Biden said in New York. "The question is can it get worse. We can stop it from getting worse." Biden sounded a similar theme before he toured Manville, New Jersey, also ravaged by severe flooding caused by Ida.
"Every part of the country, every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather,” Biden said during a briefing with officials in Somerset County, including Gov. Phil Murphy. He said the threat from wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and other extreme weather must be dealt with in ways that will lessen devastating effects of climate change. On Tuesday, the White House asked Congress for an additional $24 billion in disaster aid to cover the costs of Ida and other destructive weather events.
In New Jersey, Biden walked along a street in the Lost Valley neighborhood of Manville, where flooding is common and the cleanup continues after the Raritan River overflowed its banks. Biden, wearing a mask, spoke to adults and children, including Meagan Dommar, a new mother whose home was destroyed by fire as the flood occurred. She said afterward she hoped the visit would speed help “along a little bit” and that she was grateful for the visit. Not everyone was so welcoming. As he walked the route, the president was taunted by supporters of Donald Trump, who yelled that Biden was a “tyrant” and worse. Biden did not look in their direction. (Read more Hurricane Ida stories.)