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Biden says 'climate change is here' while touring Ida damage in NYC, N.J.

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Biden says 'climate change is here' while touring Ida damage in NYC, N.J.
Flooded vehicles are seen in New York City last Thursday after severe flooding swamped the area from remnants of Hurricane Ida. Photo courtesy FDNY/Twitter

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden warned of the impacts of climate change on Tuesday as he visited areas in the Northeast that were heavily damaged by flooding and rains that killed dozens of people last week.

Biden declared that "climate change is here" after meeting with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, state officials and members of Congress at the Somerset County Emergency Management Training Center and surveying damage from Hurricane Ida in Manville, N.J.

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"We're living through it now. I think we're at one of those inflection points where we either act or we're going to be in real, real trouble, our kids are going to be in real trouble," he said.

On Tuesday Biden also toured a neighborhood in Queens in New York City that was damaged by flash flooding Wednesday, stopping by locations where several people were killed in flooded basement apartments. Most of those who died in New York City were living in units that quickly became swamped with water and they could not escape, officials said.

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"Walking these neighborhoods, meeting the families and the first responders, seeing how folks are doing after this destruction and pain and another devastating storm is an eye opener," he said. "The people who stand on the other side of the fences who don't live there who are yelling that we are talking about and interfering with free enterprise by doing something about climate change, they don't live there ... They don't understand."

During the visit, Biden also pushed for Congress to pass his $1 trillion infrastructure plan and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation including measures to improve infrastructure and combat the effects of climate change.

"I'm hoping to be able to see the things we are going to be able to fix permanently with the bill that we have in for infrastructure," Biden said.

RELATED Ida's record rainfall in NYC, Northeast driven by climate change

Biden added that "climate change poses an existential threat" to U.S. lives and the economy but offered hope for the possibility of restoration.

"When I talk about building back better I mean you can't build it what it was before this last storm. You've got to build better so that if the storm occurred again, there would be no damage ... we've got to listen to the scientists and the economists and the national security exprts. They all tell us this is code red," said Biden.

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Ahead of his visit, Biden approved federal emergency funds to the New York counties of Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond and Westchester and the New Jersey counties of Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset.

RELATED Nearly 50 dead in Northeast after floods; high waters to last into weekend

The heavy rains and severe flooding were produced by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which devastated parts of Louisiana a week ago. More than 40 deaths in the Northeast were linked to the floods.

"We will now have access to essential federal support to help New Jerseyans recover from Tropical Storm Ida," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Monday.

Biden visited storm-ravaged areas in Louisiana on Friday. By early Tuesday, there were still more than 400,000 customers in the state without electricity, according to poweroutage.us.

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