New York and New Jersey reported over 40 combined deaths in the days after Hurricane Ida overwhelmed the region’s infrastructure with record rainfall, causing massive flooding in the unprepared states before eventually dissipating on Sept. 4. While the storm now ranks as one of the costliest tropical cyclones to make landfall in the U.S., some University of Miami community members with ties to the affected regions escaped largely unscathed.
“Some towns and villages were spared, and we were one of them,” said Walter McDowell, a former UM professor of media management living in Bordentown, New Jersey. “We had a lot of rain but no severe winds or flooding that could reach our house.”
Although Bordentown, a city about 30 miles northeast of Philadelphia, was not seriously affected by Ida, McDowell says he feels the infrequency of such disasters in the northeast has left the region unprepared for the next big storm.
“Hurricane Sandy a few years ago was devastating for the New York and New Jersey shore line, because the housing had not had a severe hurricane of that magnitude in almost 100 years,” McDowell said.
Isaiah Moore, a freshman majoring in communications from northeast New Jersey, says he was similarly unaffected by the hurricane but was shocked by videos from his friends showing the damage at Rutgers University, only an 18 minute drive from his hometown of Bayonne.
“A lot of people I know posted the floods and stuff on their snapchat, and it was really shocking to see it happen to people I care for,” said Moore.
Moore says he was immediately reminded of his experience during Hurricane Sandy as Ida hit New Jersey.
“As the videos began to come in from social media, I felt PTSD from Hurricane Sandy,” said Moore. “When hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, it was bad for my area and we lost power for almost two weeks with no food to last.”
Moore’s family usually stocks their house with essentials in case a storm like Sandy makes its way to their town, he says, but were unprepared for Ida after returning from a trip. He says is thankful that Hurricane Ida missed his family this year but was upset by the devastation seen throughout his home state.
“I thought the Hurricane would have eased up once it got to New Jersey, but we unfortunately saw that not to be the case,” said Moore.
Media management major and New Jersey native Michael Mok says he did not expect what remained of Hurricane Ida after its Aug. 30 landfall in New Orleans to have such a devastating impact on the northeast.
“I felt relatively confident that my family would be prepared but did not expect it to be so horrible,” Mok said.
Mok, who’s home was left relatively unscathed, says he was saddened to not be home helping his family overcome power outages and minor flooding, as his father is legally blind.
“I wish I could have helped my dad more. Getting around with light is already extremely difficult for him,” Mok said.
Mok says that while his family was prepared for the storm’s impact, they always expect the unexpected during natural disasters.
“Our family had the standard preparations such as flashlights and lanterns to light our way,” said Mok. “Regardless of anything, we adapt to the circumstances.”