Meteorologists predicted it. Governor Kathy Hochul warned about it. Yet Mayor Eric Adams, who revels in being a visible presence on the municipal stage, was strangely silent before torrential rainfall deluged the city on Friday morning and during the first few hours of an intense flooding.
The rain — five-plus inches in Central Park and significantly more in parts of Brooklyn, making it one of the soggiest days in New York history — all but shut down stretches of highway, snarled subway service throughout the city, flooded part of LaGuardia airport, and generally made life miserable.
Adams appeared at a news conference with Hochul shortly before noon on Friday, telling New Yorkers to shelter in place and take “extreme caution” and warning of more precipitation to come. But by then many hours had passed since the first flash-flood warning in the city, which was issued around 2 a.m. — not to mention the grim forecasts the day before.
Adams did not appear in any media before the storm to warn New Yorkers of what was to come. That contrasted with Hochul, who, as Hell Gate notes, had been tweeting about the storm in the days leading up to it and making appearances on NY1, WABC, and other outlets on Friday morning. The city did issue a travel advisory in a press release late Thursday night that warned of possible widespread flooding as the forecast worsened, but without a citywide alert, it’s safe to say that most New Yorkers were unaware of that message.
Asked about his prior invisibility at the press conference, Adams pointed to the travel advisory and defended the city’s overall response, saying, “All the necessary precautions were taken” and that “we followed the right protocol.”
This is the second time Adams has reacted sluggishly to a weather event in a few months. When heavy smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed the city in June, it took him more than 24 hours to hold a press conference. Though, to be fair to him, failing to respond to natural disasters in a timely manner is a grand mayoral tradition that stretches back through de Blasio, Bloomberg, John Lindsay, and probably all the way to the 17th century.