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New York City Council Calls For Oversight Hearing On Why City Wasn't Better Prepared For Ida

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a weather response task force in the aftermath of Ida.

The city council is now calling for an oversight hearing on why they say the city wasn't better prepared for the storm, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

A lot of words were expended by the mayor at City Hall about the need to develop new plans to deal with punishing storms. But the irony is that city officials released a flooding analysis in May that called for updating flash flood responses by 2023.

"You assume that the city has an evacuation plan. When there's hurricanes, people that are living in areas that are in flood zones, people living in basement apartments," said Councilman Justin Brannan.

Brannan, chair of the Resiliency and Waterfronts Committee, expressed frustration about the report that said the city should update its flash flood plans because of a possible 25% increase in annual rainfall.

The report said to, "... Pre-draft messaging regarding potential dangers for residents living in basement dwellings to be used for outreach and notification in advance of forecasted extreme rain events."

"We know that there's a lot of people in the city living in basement apartments. Shouldn't the first thing be to evacuate these people? To have a plan to evacuate these people the same way that Louisiana does it. It's no different," Brannan said.

Brannan and council leaders will hold and oversight hearing on Sept. 14 to find out why the city was not better prepared, including testimony about why 13 people died, including 2-year-old Lobsang Lama and his parents.

The Nepalese family died when their basement apartment in Woodside, Queens flooded.

Gov. Kathy Hochul questioned if the warnings were sufficient.

"What was not addressed was warnings, perhaps in different languages," Hochul said. "We have to get a better system for evacuations and deploy people on the ground in these events and not hope that they got a message."

Mayor de Blasio appointed a weather response task force to reevaluate the evacuation plan. Crews will activate cellphone alerts and go door-to-door to get people out of basement apartments in severe storms.

De Blasio said he would also impose travel bans.

"And once it's activated, people will have to leave the streets, get out of subways, etc... immediately," de Blasio said.

Brannan said the mayor has to work faster.

"We have to step this up. There's plans that were put in place after Hurricane Sandy where there's still not shovels in the ground, especially out here in the outer boroughs. You see that Lower Manhattan gets all the attention in the world. Out here in the outer boroughs, we get thoughts and prayers and mops and buckets," said Brannan.

The mayor said the task force will report by Sept. 26. Meanwhile, Gov. Hochul has ordered an after-action report.

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