NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The record-breaking downpour from the remnants of Hurricane Ida forced New York’s transit systems to practically come to a screeching halt as cascading water flooded nearly 50 subway stations, trains got stuck between stations and buses were overwhelmed by rising flood waters.

The transit failure is just one of the many problems faced by new governor Kathy Hochul.

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To use a water metaphor, Hochul must feel a little like the little Dutch boy forced to put his finger in the dike to save his country.

She’s faced so many problems since taking office last week, she must wonder if she has enough fingers to plug all the holes, but when CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer put tough questions to her about preparations for Ida, she had answers.

The waters pouring into the 28th Street subway station Wednesday night looked like a mini Niagara Falls, but while the falls might be a familiar sight for Hochul, a Buffalo native, she doesn’t want to see them in the New York City subway system.

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“The MTA, this is not the first time that the subways have flooded. What can you do going forward so that this doesn’t happen again and again and again?” Kramer asked.

“Here’s what we need to do. We need to identify the areas where we have vulnerabilities on our streets where the drainage systems are not functioning properly and they’re close to the entrance of a subway … and then the water just creates a river down the steps and into the subway system,” Hochul said. “That’s our first priority.”

She also wondered why, with Ida bearing down on the city, the subways weren’t closed earlier.

“I want to assess why we don’t stop people, new passengers, from going down the stairs into them,” Hochul said.

She was also characteristically frank about whether people should have been alerted earlier to the dangers of the storm.

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“I know I deployed resources yesterday morning, but we did not know that between 8:50 and 9:50 p.m. last night that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls-level water to the streets of New York,” Hochul said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a press conference attended by Sen. Chuck Schumer and a gaggle of local officials, blamed it on bad advice from weather experts.

“We need to start communicating to people that we should assume things are going to be much worse in literally every situation,” de Blasio said.

The press conference was held in Hollis, Queens, where sewers overflowed, despite billions invested by the city to fix the problem. At least two people in a basement apartment died, and other homes suffered damage.


Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams demanded an investigation of the contractors.

“You allocated the money. Contractors came in, put in a system where the pipes were too small. That is real incompetence and that’s failure on our part, so we need to find out what other contacts this contractor has and immediately put a halt to them,” Adams said.

With a number of people dying when waters flooded their basement apartments, the city is going to face another problem.

Two years ago, the mayor signed legislation to allow homeowners to turn basements and cellars into legal apartments.

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After the experience of Ida, some are wondering if that’s a good idea.

Marcia Kramer