New York and New Jersey were under states of emergency on Thursday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept into the Northeast, battering the region with tornadoes, record rain and flooding that left at least five people dead.
Videos on social media showed cars submerged on highways and water pouring into subway stations after a wind-driven deluge shattered rainfall records and prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency for New York City.
Two men and two women died in three separate flooding incidents in the city, police said. In Passaic, New Jersey, firefighters recovered a body from a vehicle that went underwater when it was caught in floodwaters near the Passaic River, the town’s mayor said.
“We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
De Blasio declared a state of emergency, and a “travel ban” that barred non-emergency vehicles from streets and highways was in place until 5 a.m. ET, officials said.
Central Park saw more than 3 inches of rain in one hour, the National Weather Service said. Between 6 and 10 inches of rain fell over several hours, it said, and city streets were inundated with water.
The transit system was severely limited or suspended because of the weather and flooding, the transit agency said. Some riders appeared to be trapped on trains with the subway tweeting that anyone trapped between stations should stay put.
The FDNY was responding to rescue calls in all five boroughs, a department spokesperson said. The effort including using high-axle vehicles bought after Superstorm Sandy.
These are historic images to save. The doppler radar storm total estimates. Purple is 5” and up to red 10”. You rarely see this wide/long of a heavy rain foot print outside of a land falling tropical system. The amount and speed it fell is unheard of in the Northeast. pic.twitter.com/NY5GyCmVq6
— Bill Karins (@BillKarins) September 2, 2021
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared of state of emergency, which allows for state aid.
New York City airports LaGuardia and JFK reported flight disruptions, and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport suspended all flight activity but limited operations later returned.
The weather service retweeted video of Brooklyn that showed cars driving through water that resembled a river with an urgent warning: “This water is too deep to drive through. Turn Around Don’t Drown!!”
New Jersey’s governor also declared a state of emergency due to the severe weather. “Stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Passaic Mayor Hector C. Lora declared a state of emergency, one of several area cities to do so. He livestreamed the scene as cars were submerged up to their headlights in a flooded section of the city of around 70,000. Some cars were struck in the middle of the street.
Passaic’s Deputy Chief of Police Louis Gentile said that all kinds of vehicles had gotten stuck, and warned residents not to be fooled by thinking they have a powerful car.
“We have fire trucks stuck, we have ambulances stuck, we have people that are still stuck and not getting out of the water,” he said. “It’s very serious.”
At least one tornado struck Mullica Hill, New Jersey, forecasters said. At least nine homes were destroyed, NBC Philadelphia reported. There were reports of damage across southeast Pennsylvania Pennsylvania and in New Jersey, National Weather Service Meteorologist Sarah Johnson said, but survey teams will have to confirm if they were more tornadoes.
New Jersey Transit said rail service was suspended.
Soaking rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida prompted the evacuations of thousands of people Wednesday after water reached dangerous levels at a dam near Johnstown, a Pennsylvania town nicknamed Flood City.
Some areas near Johnstown, whose history includes several deadly floods, saw 5 inches or more of rain by mid-afternoon, an inundation that triggered an evacuation order for those downstream from the Wilmore dam.
Cambria County emergency management director and 911 center head Art Martynuska said the water level at the Wilmore dam reached a height that required evacuation.
Nearby Hinckston Run Dam was also being monitored but appeared stable by late afternoon, he said, by which time water levels at Wilmore dam were receding.
Gov. Tom Wolf said he was sending emergency responders to Bucks County, including National Guard high-water vehicles and an urban search-and-rescue team, in southeastern Pennsylvania following tornadoes and flooding.
Johnson, of the weather service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey, which also covers Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, said there were reports of as much as 7 inches of rain Wednesday.
In Maryland, a 19-year-old man died after flooding that displaced 150 people from an apartment building Wednesday morning, police said. There was also a suspected tornado that caused damage in Annapolis.
The severe weather occurred as Post-Tropical Cyclone Ida, which hit Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, was causing heavy rainfall in the region.
The hurricane and its remnants knocked out power to hundreds of thousands in Louisiana and beyond and the storm is now considered a factor in more than 10 deaths.