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First person: Surviving a deadly hurricane in New York |


“I emigrated from Guyana in 1998 and have lived in Queens ever since. I live with my husband and daughter. We are a small family with many connections in New York and New Jersey.

The community here is diverse, from Guyanese, Trinidadian and Bengali, to Indian, Chinese and Filipino. We are a very happy group of hard working people. We plant gardens, we send our children to universities, and do everything to give back to the community.


Destruction left over from Hurricane Ida in New Sarpy, Louisiana, August 2021.

American Red Cross / Scott Dalton

Destruction left over from Hurricane Ida in New Sarpy, Louisiana, August 2021.

It’s time to leave

On September 1st, when Ida attacked, I was working from home. I turn on the television to receive notifications; Obviously a storm is coming. I focused on the radar and tracked the storm on the map. Looks like it will pass through the northeast. When I see how much red there is, I know it will definitely affect us.

Several improvements have been made to the storm drain on our property in the last year, so I hope we won’t feel the effects too badly. But as afternoon approached, I saw how many hours of rain they forecast. I became very nervous, and I began to warn the neighbors to be extra careful that night.

Usually, if there are signs of flooding, I leave the house because I am frightened by the situation. So I packed a bag and I told them, let’s leave. Initially my husband and daughter wanted to stay and so my husband just took me to her husband’s house, who lives on higher ground just down the block.

I kept calling both of them and around 10pm I told them they needed to get out of the house. As soon as I called them, the manhole right in front of my house appeared. They barely ran out and drove up to my sister-in-law’s compound.


Hurricane Ida is seen in this image taken aboard the International Space Station.  The dangerous storm made landfall in Louisiana, USA on August 29, 2021.

NASA / European Space Agency

Hurricane Ida is seen in this image taken aboard the International Space Station. The dangerous storm made landfall in Louisiana, USA on August 29, 2021.

‘They lost their lives in seconds’

We lived at the corner of the intersection, flooded on each side and going in four directions. I was calling to make sure everyone was safe when I was informed that someone was missing.

Finally, I discovered that the mother and daughter who lived next to me had drowned and died in the basement.

I have no words to tell you the pain this neighborhood has been through since then. I see that kid every day. He was young and vibrant, and so was the mother.

They lost their lives in an instant. There were even scuba divers who tried to get them out, but to no avail.


A teenage girl offers comfort to her brother at the Red Cross evacuation shelter after Hurricane Ada made landfall in Louisiana in August 2021.

American Red Cross / Scott Dalton

A teenage girl offers comfort to her brother at the Red Cross evacuation shelter after Hurricane Ada made landfall in Louisiana in August 2021.

‘We’re scared and scared’

These houses shouldn’t be here, in this lowland. We have been sounding the alarm for a very long time.

I hope that in New York City, people are now consciously paying attention to what the weather is doing, so that no more lives are lost in vain. Given the amount of rain we’re seeing and the number of storms forecast for this coming summer, we’re scared and scared.

I don’t know what to do because the foundation of my house has not been repaired yet, because it is very expensive.

It seems the area is too low for residential housing. Engineers from the New York City Climate Resilience Agency worked with us and proposed a trial that lifts homes. There are many different options, but the choice is not to stay here as it is.

Everyone on our block lives in fear all the time. When I see rain on the radar, I want to escape. I packed my bags so I could leave.

Ida is an experience we should learn from and not let it happen again. Climate change will be there. Changes will happen all the time, and we must arm ourselves with them.

I want to know what the future of this community will look like. What is going to happen? Will I sit and worry about the next people to come and live here? I want a safer community for everyone, for the whole of America, for every community.”



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