Flash flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least 45 people in the Northeast, including 23 in New Jersey alone and 12 in New York City as cleanup is underway from the ‘historic’ weather event that officials blamed on climate change.
The New York Police Department said that out of 12 people who died in the city, one of them perished in a car and 11 in flooded basement apartments that often serve as relatively affordable homes in one of the nation´s most expensive housing markets. The victims ranged from the ages of 2 to 86.
Five people died in Pennsylvania; one in Maryland; and one in Connecticut.
‘Among the people MOST at risk during flash floods here are those living in off-the-books basement dwellings that don’t meet the safety codes necessary to save lives,’ lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Cars are left stranded in flood water under a bridge on Thursday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida produced heavy rain and caused widespread flooding in New York City
Members of the Lodi, New Jersey Fire Department perform water rescues of trapped residents following torrential rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on Thursday
In the wake of Ida, the Schuylkill River crested above its banks, flooding the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk on Thursday
The image above from Thursday shows the view of a car damaged by a downed tree after the remnants of Hurricane Ida produced heavy rain and caused widespread flooding in New York
People navigate heavy rains and flooded walkways at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York on Wednesday night
‘These are working class, immigrant, and low-income people & families,’ she added.
Three also died in the New York suburb of Westchester while another three died in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, a local official confirmed.
A Connecticut state police sergeant perished after his cruiser was swept away.
Flooding closed major roads across New Jersey and New York boroughs including Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens, submerging cars and forcing the fire department to rescue hundreds of people.
At least 23 people died in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy told reporters.
‘The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles,’ he said.
Murphy on Thursday requested that President Joe Biden issue a major disaster declaration due to the impact from the remnants of Ida.
In New York City, Sophy Liu roused her son from bed and put him in a life jacket and inflatable swimming ring as their first-floor apartment flooded in Queens.
Unable to open the door against the force of the water, she called friends for help. The water was nearly 5 feet high when they came to her rescue, she said.
‘I was obviously scared, but I had to be strong for my son. I had to calm him down,’ she recalled Thursday as medical examiners removed three bodies from a home down the street.
Cars and trucks are stranded by high water on the Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx on Thursday
Buses, UPS delivery trucks, and trailers stand idle on the Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx on Thursday
A person who eventually waded to a truck moves amongst cars and other trucks that are stranded by high water on the Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx on Thursday
The water nearly engulfs the stranded vehicles on the Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx on Thursday
Passersby watch as cars are left stranded on the Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx on Thursday
The Major Deegan Expressway (above) was one of several New York City highways that were underwater on Thursday
Sections of the FDR Drive in Manhattan, the Bronx River Parkway, and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway were also flooded. The Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx is seen above
Record rainfall, which prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency warning for New York City, turned streets into rivers and shut down subway services as water cascaded down platforms onto tracks.
‘I’m 50 years old and I’ve never seen that much rain ever,’ said Metodija Mihajlov whose basement of his Manhattan restaurant was flooded with three inches of water.
‘It was like living in the jungle, like tropical rain. Unbelievable. Everything is so strange this year,’ he told AFP.
In another part of Queens, water rapidly filled Deborah Torres’ first-floor apartment to her knees as her landlord frantically urged her neighbors below – who included a baby – to get out, she said.
But the water rushed in so strongly that she surmised they weren’t able to open the door. The three residents died.
‘I have no words,’ she said. ‘How can something like this happen?’
Ida’s remnants maintained a soggy core, then merged with a more traditional storm front and dropped an onslaught of rain on the Interstate 95 corridor, meteorologists said.
Similar weather has followed hurricanes before, but experts said it was slightly exacerbated by climate change – warmer air holds more rain – and urban settings, where expansive pavement prevents water from seeping into the ground.
The National Hurricane Center had warned since Tuesday of the potential for ‘significant and life-threatening flash flooding’ and moderate and major river flooding in the mid-Atlantic region and New England.
People visit the flooded Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on Thursday after a night of extremely heavy rain caused by Hurricane Ida
New York City Parks Security Service officers on horseback explore the Greyshot Arch which is flooded in Central Park on Thursday
Record rainfall was reported in Central Park on Wednesday. The park ended up getting 3.15 inches just in one hour, surpassing the previous recorded high of 1.94 inches in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on August 21
Security officers on horseback wade through flood waters in Central Park’s Greyshot Arch on Thursday
The cleanup from the historic flooding is expected to take a while, according to local city and state officials
The severity of the flooding is evident in the image above as the water level nearly reaches the horse’s neck
A runner stops to look at high water at the Greyshot Arch which is flooded in Central Park on Thursday
A person takes a photo of flooded benches near Bow Bridge in New York City’s Central Park on Thursday
Benches are seen submerged in Brooklyn on Thursday after the remnants of Ida brought drenching rain and the threat of flash floods and tornadoes
A slide is pictured at a flooded playground in the Brooklyn section of New York City on Thursday
Riya Rose, 4, and Caroline Weiner, 6, stop to look at a flooded playground in their Brooklyn neighborhood on Thursday
Tiger Lily Koch, 10, is pictured with her brother, Adrien at a flooded playground in Brooklyn on Thursday
An empty flooded playground is seen in the above photo taken in Brooklyn on Thursday
Still, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the storm’s strength took them by surprise.
‘We did not know that between 8:50 and 9:50pm last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls level of water to the streets of New York,’ said Hochul, a Democrat who became governor last week after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned.
De Blasio, also a Democrat, said he’d gotten a forecast Wednesday of 3 to 6 inches of rain over the course of the day.
‘We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with record-breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,’ de Blasio said late on Wednesday.
State emergencies were declared in New York and New Jersey while the National Weather Service issued its first-ever emergency flash flood warning for New York City, urging residents to move to higher ground.
Danny Hong shows where the water reached up to him as he shows the damage in his basement apartment on 153rd St. in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens, New York on Thursday
A hole in the foundation where a window once was and flood waters rushed in is seen in a home on 153rd St. in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens
A hole in the foundation where a window once was and flood waters rushed in is seen in the basement apartment on 153rd St. in the Flushing section of Queens
Police officers use a yellow tarp to block the view as bodies are removed from a flooded basement apartment on Peck Avenue in Flushing, Queens on Thursday
The flood water line is seen just above glasses hanging over a sink in a basement apartment on 153rd St. in Flushing on Thursday
Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a basement apartment where bodies were found on Peck Ave. in Flushing, Queens on Thursday
Teresa Eng cleans out her bedroom in a her basement apartment in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens on Thursday
Ragendra Shivprasad (left), the landlord of a building where some of the occupants were killed when several feet of water collapsed the wall to a basement apartment, stands with neighbors as they watch the scene in Queens on Thursday
A police officer stands guard as a man surveys the damage to a home in the Jamaica section of Queens on Thursday
Democratic candidate for New York City mayor Eric Adams (center) talks to reporters outside a home where people were killed when their basement apartment was flooded in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens on Thursday
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (center) and New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza (right) speak to a resident of the Jamaica section of Queens on Thursday
‘You do not know how deep the water is and it is too dangerous,’ the New York branch of the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a tweet.
The city’s Central Park ended up getting 3.15 inches just in one hour, surpassing the previous recorded high of 1.94 inches in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on August 21.
Wednesday’s storm ultimately dumped over 9 inches of rain in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and nearly as much on New York City’s Staten Island.
In Washington, President Joe Biden assured Northeast residents that federal first responders were on the ground to help clean up.
As Ida’s remnants hit New York, some highways flooded, garbage bobbed in streaming streets and water cascaded into the city’s subway tunnels, trapping at least 17 trains and halting service until early morning.
Videos online showed riders standing on seats in swamped cars. All riders were evacuated safely, officials said.
A man falls off his bike into a flooded street in Hoboken, New Jersey on Thursday on the morning after the remnants of Hurricane Ida drenched the New York City area
This handout picture courtesy of Dave Lucas shows the flooded area of Southwest Hoboken on Thursday
The image above shows flooded streets in Southwest Hoboken, New Jersey before dawn on Thursday
The remnants of Hurricane Ida triggered spectacular flash flooding and a rare state of emergency in New York City and other surrounding areas, including Hoboken (above)
New Jersey authorities said that 23 people died in the state. The death toll could rise. The image above shows Hoboken, New Jersey on Thursday
Cars are left stranded at an intersection in Southwest Hoboken, New Jersey on Thursday
A van drives through a flooded intersection in Southwest Hoboken, New Jersey early on Thursday morning
At one Queens development, water filled the sunken patio of a basement apartment, then broke through a glass door, trapping a 48-year-old woman in 6 feet of water. Neighbors unsuccessfully tried for an hour to save her.
‘She was screaming, “Help me, help me, help me!” We all came to her aid, trying to get her out. But it was so strong – the thrust of the water was so strong,’ said the building’s assistant superintendent, Jayson Jordan.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled at LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as at Newark, where video showed a terminal inundated by rainwater.
In Elizabeth, New Jersey, near Newark Airport, four people died and 600 were left homeless from rain and river flooding in an apartment complex, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage said.
A cone blocks off a flooded Van Buren Street in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
An abandoned car is seen in flooded waters on Jefferson Street in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
Abilio Viegas attempts to fix his flooded van on South Street in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
South Street in Newark is desolate as the flood waters inundate the roadways on Thursday
Water is pumped out of the basement of a home on Clifford Street in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
Abandoned cars are seen in flood water on South Street in Newark on Thursday
Luis Armejo prepares a pipe to pump out water from out of his basement in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
A flooded Valero gas station is seen on South Street. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency due to the flooding caused by Ida
A man walks through a flooded Clifford Street in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
South Street in Newark, New Jersey is inundated with flood waters on Thursday
A man walks through a flooded Van Buren Street in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday
Neighbors described hearing screaming from the complex at about 11pm as water flowed down the street, pushing dumpsters and cars around.
‘Sandy had nothing on this,’ resident Jennifer Vilchez said, referring to 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.
Greg Turner, who lives in another part of the city, said his 87-year-old mother started calling 911 from the complex at 8pm when the water started rising in her apartment.
High water kept him and his brother from getting to her.
The Schuylkill River exceeds its bank in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia on Thursday
At least three people died in the Philadelphia area as a result of the flooding, according to local authorities
Vehicles are under floodwater from Schuylkill River in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia on Thursday
The Schuylkill River rises and nearly breaches the Green Lane Bridge near the Manayunk section of Philadelphia on Thursday
The aerial view above shows the Schuylkill River overflowing its bank in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia on Thursday
Most of the Philadelphia region received between three and five inches of rain, though some areas saw as much as eight inches
Local authorities and meteorologists also reported several tornadoes in the region on Wednesday
Austin Ferdock drinks a beer while floating in floodwater that continues to rise over the submerged Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia on Thursday
People look at floodwater that continues to rise over the submerged Vine Street Expressway on Thursday
The expressway, also known as Interstate 676, is completely underwater in Philadelphia on Thursday
The above aerial view shows the highway completely submerged by several feet of flood waters in Philadelphia on Thursday
The brown squares in the image above represent the flooded Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia on Thursday
The flood waters nearly rise to the overhead intersection of 22nd Street in Philadelphia on Thursday
Traffic is at a standstill in downtown Philadelphia as the city digs out from record rain on Thursday
As midnight approached, the water reached her neck, he said. Rescuers finally cut through the floor of the apartment above and pulled her to safety.
‘She lost everything,’ Turner said as he headed to a bank for money to buy his mother clothes and shoes.
In New Jersey’s Milford Borough, authorities said they found a man´s body in a car buried up to its hood in dirt and rocks.
The ferocious storm also spawned tornadoes – at least seven, according to the National Weather Service.
One split trees on Cape Cod, another tore off part of a high school roof in suburban Philadelphia and yet another ripped apart homes and toppled silos in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, south of Philadelphia.
‘It just came through and ripped,’ said resident Jeanine Zubrzycki, 33, who hid in her basement with her three children as the house shook and lights flickered.
When the danger passed, they went upstairs and saw a neighbor’s house had been destroyed.
‘And then you could just hear people crying,’ said Zubrzycki, 33, whose own home was damaged but liveable.
Record flooding along the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania inundated homes, highways and commercial buildings, even as meteorologists warned that rivers likely won´t crest for a few more days.
The image above shows homes and properties flooded in the town of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania on Thursday
More properties suffered damage as a result of the flooding in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania on Thursday
Bridgeport is a borough of Montgomery County. It lies about 18 miles north of Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River
The above images shows an empty neighborhood of Bridgeport after it was flooded on Wednesday
Two workers help clean Mates Brothers Auto Body in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania on Thursday
A car is almost completely submerged in the Pennsylvania town of Bridgeport on Thursday
Flood waters leave cars stranded near a residential area of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania on Thursday
Natalie Kayl looks out the front door of her sister Jennifer Kayl’s flooded home in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania on Thursday
The image above shows another view of a flooded street in a residential area of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania on Thursday
The riverside community of Manayunk remained largely under water.
The Schuyilkill reached levels not seen in over 100 years in Philadelphia, where firefighters were still getting calls about minor building collapses and people stuck in flooded cars Thursday morning, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.
The managers of a 941-unit apartment complex near the river ordered residents to evacuate, citing ‘deteriorating’ conditions after water rushed into the parking garage and pool areas.
In suburban Bucks County, several firefighters had to be rescued after rushing floodwaters pinned a rescue boat against a bridge pier, state emergency management director Randy Padfield said.
Others were unable to escape the floods, including Donald Bauer, who was driving home to Perkiomenville after attending their daughter’s volleyball game at DeSales University, near Allentown.
The game had been moved up by two hours because of the weather.
State police Trooper Nathan Branosky said Bauer, 65, drowned in the car after helping his wife get out.
His wife is hospitalized, DeSales spokesperson Michael Corr said.
A flash flood warning continued into Thursday in New England, where authorities used boats to rescue 18 people from a neighborhood in Plainville, Connecticut, and 15 people – one in a wheelchair – from a complex in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
A road in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, crumbled.
In Frederick County, Maryland, first responders used a boat to rescue 10 children and a driver from a school bus caught in rising waters.
On Sunday, Ida struck Louisiana as the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the US mainland, leaving 1 million people without power, maybe for weeks.
‘We’re all in this together. The nation is ready to help,’ Biden said ahead of a trip Friday to the southern state of Louisiana, where Ida earlier destroyed buildings and left more than a million homes without power.
A destroyed farm is seen in Mullica Hill, New Jersey on Thursday after record-breaking rainfall brought by the remnants of Ida swept through the area
Court staff clean the rain off the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Wednesday
The US Open was also halted as howling wind and rain blew under the corners of the Louis Armstrong Stadium roof.
New Yorkers woke to clear blue skies Thursday as the city edged back to life but signs of the previous night’s carnage weren’t far away: residents moved fallen tree branches from roads as subway services slowly resumed.
Around 98,000 homes in Pennsylvania, 60,000 in New Jersey and 40,000 in New York were without power, according to the website poweroutage.us.
It is rare for such storms to strike America’s northeastern seaboard and comes as the surface layer of oceans warms due to climate change.
The warming is causing cyclones to become more powerful and carry more water, posing an increasing threat to the world’s coastal communities, scientists say.
‘Global warming is upon us and it’s going to get worse and worse and worse unless we do something about it,’ said Democratic senator Chuck Schumer.
In Annapolis, 30 miles from Washington, a tornado ripped up trees and toppled electricity poles.
The NWS warned the threat of tornadoes would linger, with tornado watches in effect for parts of southern Connecticut, northern New Jersey, and southern New York as Ida tracked north through New England Thursday.