New York City Mayor Eric Adams faced significant criticism for his handling of the massive flooding that hit the city on Friday. As torrential rain pounded the city, Adams was faulted for not issuing timely and comprehensive warnings to residents and for showing up late to an emergency management hearing with other officials.
While leaders from various organizations, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), held major briefings on the impending weather conditions, the Adams administration’s response seemed slow and lacked proactive communication. Instead of issuing clear directives and warnings to residents, the city’s official response on Thursday consisted mainly of retweets of weather announcements.
What added to the frustration was Adams attending a fundraising event on the evening before the storm, leaving classes in city schools to go on as usual. Unfortunately, some of these schools ended up being flooded, endangering students and staff.
Adams finally declared a state of emergency, but it came after much of the damage had been done, with streets flooded and subway services disrupted throughout the city. Governor Kathy Hochul had already indicated her intent to issue a state of emergency for the state by the time Adams made the announcement.
This slow response and lack of proactive communication left many residents feeling unprepared and caught off guard. Some city lawmakers expressed their disappointment, highlighting the need for more aggressive and early communication during severe weather events. Councilman Lincoln Restler criticized the lack of early preparation and planning for the worst-case scenario, which was evident in the response.
Adams’ first comment on the storm came around midday, advising people to stay home after many residents had already begun their daily routines. This delay in warning residents came even though weather experts had already sounded alarms about the catastrophic potential of the rainfall more than a day in advance. The National Weather Service had issued a dire update about flooding, describing it as “life-threatening,” yet the mayor had not yet advised residents to stay inside.
Residents and observers on social media criticized the mayor for not being more proactive in ensuring the safety of the city’s residents. The delay in issuing a state of emergency and providing clear guidance on staying safe during the storm was seen as a failure to protect the well-being of New Yorkers.
This wasn’t the first time Mayor Adams faced backlash for failing to respond quickly to an emergency in the city. Earlier in the year, during a period of high wildfire smoke levels, Adams was criticized for not effectively notifying residents about the hazardous air quality.
In December of the previous year, during a major storm that led to flooding in the city, Adams had left for a vacation in the US Virgin Islands, causing further frustration among residents who expected swift and efficient leadership during such emergencies.
City Hall defended the administration’s response, citing the use of social media and city alerts to inform the public. However, this response did not appease critics who expected more proactive and decisive action.
By late Friday afternoon, Adams appeared in a media blitz where he stated that anyone caught off guard by the flooding was at fault. He emphasized that the storm had been widely forecasted, implying that residents should have been more prepared. However, many argued that the responsibility for effective emergency communication rested with city leadership.
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso called for improved processes for communicating with New Yorkers about extreme weather before it occurs. The incident raised questions about the city’s emergency response procedures and the need for better communication and preparation in the face of severe weather events.
Governor Kathy Hochul came to Adams’ defense, saying her office had been working closely with New York City. However, the frustration among residents and city leaders indicated the need for more effective coordination and leadership during crises.