September 3, 2021
John Berman: Joining me now is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. Last night you reported that the death toll in New York City has risen to 13. Any update on that this morning?
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Yeah, John first of all, I just want to thank you and everyone at CNN. You guys have really done a great job covering this extraordinarily painful storm and showing the impact it has had on everyday people, working people. I appreciate that. I also just want us all to stop and think about a storm that hit Louisiana and then had an impact as far north as New Jersey, New York as like an after affect. This is a whole new world. So, to answer your question. We’ve lost 13 New Yorkers. And it’s horrible. We’ve lost 13 New Yorkers. And it is because this storm was so ferocious and sudden in the rainfall accumulation. This is not a challenge we’ve had in the past. In the past, you think about flooding, it was coastal areas. That was a huge challenge. This is something entirely new. Rain that accumulates so quickly that people can be trapped in their own basement, far away from any seashore, and that people can be trapped in their cars because the rain accumulates so quickly, they don’t even know what hit them. We are in whole different world. And we are all going to have to now act very differently because this is not the world we knew. This is a kind of extreme, brutal weather, that’s a whole new ball game. And not just here. I mean, obviously what happened in Louisiana, what’s happening in the Southwest with the drought, what’s happening in California with the wildfires. This is a new world because of climate change that’s going to take entirely different responses.
Berman: Look, one figure I think tells the whole story. Which is that New York City in Central Park broke the single hour rain fall record yesterday, basically. The most rainfall ever in one hour, but it was a record that was set the week before. So, this is clearly happening more now in ways just, we haven’t seen, Mayor. I do want to get a sense though of where things stand in the city this morning. It’s encouraging, I think, that the death toll has not gone up in New York City from 13 last night to now. At this point, do you think everyone has been accounted for? Any rescues still going on this morning?
Mayor: I’m praying that we have closed the book on this. But John, it is too early to tell. And NYPD, Fire, EMS, everyone is out there, still following up. But look, what we do know, thank God, our roadways are clear again, people, homeowners, storeowners, I met with a lot of them in different boroughs yesterday, are digging out, getting back to businesses. New Yorkers are incredibly resilient. So, we went through a lot of pain in the last 48 hours, but people are immediately coming back, our Sanitation workers are cleaning stuff up, putting amazing effort in to just get things as back to normal as they can. And New Yorkers just don’t quit, that’s the bottom line.
Berman: Now, I know you’ve called for global and federal action on climate change. That aside Mayor, if this is going to keep happening, what can New York City do to be more ready next time?
Mayor: I think it's a different ball game now, a different strategy. Instead of assuming as we have in the past, for example a travel ban was a very, very rare thing in the past. The few times I’ve used that is when we were expecting massive blizzards. But now seeing what happened on Wednesday, a travel ban is the kind of thing I want to introduce into the equation early in each storm as a possibility. And then, pull the trigger if I have to, and literally tell people, off the streets, out of the subways, clear the way. Also evacuation. Evacuation, John, is something we only thought of in the worst kind of events, particularly hurricanes and coastal areas. But what we saw in some of these basement apartments on Wednesday was people needed to be evacuated who were far away from the coast because of the sheer intensity and speed, the amount of rain that came in such a brief period of time. We are going to need now have the ability to send Police, Fire, etcetera out to go and evacuate people in places we never would have imagined in the past. And we are going to have to tell people prepare to be evacuated. I’m actually amazed we are at this point honestly. But given what’s happened with climate change, given the fact that the extreme weather is now tragically the norm, we are going to have to be much more aggressive with these kinds of tools.
Berman: I think that is startling. That will be startling for people when it sinks in that the Mayor of New York City is basically saying the City is going to need to evacuate, lowering the bar, for people to get out of their homes in the face of storms. That’s not something you think about when you think of New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio, I appreciate you being on this morning.
Mayor: Thank you, John.