via Associated Press
FLOODS – “Please help me!” Stuck in his apartment as the water gradually rose in his apartment to new York, Roberto Bravo called for help. This 66-year-old Ecuadorian was surprised by the storm Ida which submerged the megalopolis on Wednesday September 1, says the New York Times. He couldn’t be saved.
Roberto Bravo is one of 13 victims of torrential rains in New York City, according to the latest report on Friday, September 3. Among these deaths, 11 of them drowned in their accommodation located in “basements”, the basements of houses fitted out by owners and rented out.
But with the climate deregulation and the proliferation of floods, these basements have become deadly traps for families. Like Roberto Bravo, three people including a 2-year-old child died in another souplex in the city.
100,000 illegal basements in New York
“If there is any proof that we must be concerned with this problem (of inhabited basements, editor’s note), it is this one”, pointed out in the New York Times Annetta Seecharran, director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation, which helps poor communities find housing.
Because it is often the families with the least resources, in particular from immigration, who turn to these less expensive basements on the rental market. These apartments are also often illegal: they are small, unsanitary, windowless and with only one exit door.
The Pratt Center for Community Development, another group fighting for equal access to housing, estimates that 100,000 homes of this type are illegal in New York, mostly in Queens, in the western part of the city.
Storm Ida killed at least 44 people
If no indication yet exists regarding the legality or not of the basements affected by storm Ida – many legal apartments have also been submerged, recalls the site Curved -, “We have to test new things and find a solution to make them safe, because they will not go away (…), they are part of the New York ecosystem”, underlines Rebekah Morris, manager of Pratt Center for Community Development interviewed by Curved.
The inhabitants also regret the inaction of the City. “Even when it’s just rain, our basement gets flooded. We have had this problem for years, we asked for help from the municipality but no one listens to us ”, regrets a woman interviewed in another article in the New York Times. She lives right in front of a souplex where two people died during the storm.
Contacted by the American daily, the New York City Hall ensures for its part that anyone who lives in a basement can call emergencies in the event of a problem, without fear of being evicted. She also added that new measures could be announced this Friday, September 3 to respond to this scourge.
In all, the storm Ida made at least 44 dead in the New York area, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
See also on The HuffPost: Images of the chaos wreaked by Storm Ida in New York