A Trinidad-born woman living in Flatbush, Brooklyn in New York says she is grateful to be alive, although her home was badly affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Heavy showers caused extensive damage to homes and property in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut on Wednesday night. At least 47 people, including a 43-year-old Trinidad-born Jamaica, Queen’s woman and her son, were killed.
On Thursday, Sophia De Coteau-Codrington told Newsday, in a phone interview, she and her family were dealing with the aftermath of the flooding caused by the storm.
“We started getting city-wide notifications around 3 pm (on Wednesday) saying a flash flooding (warning) was in effect from 6-11 pm,” De Coteau-Codrington said.
“Rain just started falling, but it became strong with gusty winds around 5 pm.”
She said more flood alerts were issued after 5 pm.
“It was like every two minutes. It was a lot.”
She said residents were not aware the city would even be affected by Ida, so they had little time to prepare.
“My husband works for the city as an engineer in charge of the Brooklyn area for emergencies, and even he was unaware of the weather.”
She said by 7 pm the weather became terrible.
“By then we were in the middle of the storm. Winds were really strong. By 8 pm the streets were flooded, and neighbours complained of water coming in.”
She said her seven-year-old daughter and four-year-old son were terrified.
De Coteau-Codrington, who has been living in Brooklyn for the past nine years, said the water was so strong it pushed open her metal door.
“The water was about four feet high in the backyard.”
She said her mother, who lives in the downstairs apartment, lost her bed and other furniture in her room after the water came through the window.
“We’re all traumatised. Everyone is trying to deal with the damage. Walls need to be replaced (and) we’re dealing with a lot of repairs.”
She said the family is trying to get assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The city declared a state of emergency on Wednesday night, and many schools were closed on Thursday morning. The train stations were also closed, leaving many people unable to get to work.
De Coteau-Codrington said her husband told her it is the worst the city has been affected since Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Sandy was the deadliest, most destructive hurricane of the 2012 hurricane season.
De Coteau-Codrington said she believes things should get better by Friday.
As for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, which usually showcases Caribbean-themed festivities, she said the Caribbean community will find a way to make things work.
“People will be jumping in the rain,” she joked. “It’s been a year since everyone has been out.”