At least eight deaths were reported in New York City and New Jersey as remnants of Hurricane Ida blew through the US’s mid-Atlantic states with at least two tornadoes, heavy winds and drenching rains that collapsed the roof of a US Postal Service building, left cars and roads underwater and sent the New York City area into a state of emergency early Thursday.
Police in New York City reported seven deaths, including a 50-year-old man, a 48-year-old woman and a 2-year-old boy who were found unconscious and unresponsive late Wednesday inside a home. They were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. One death was confirmed in New Jersey.
Social media posts showed homes reduced to rubble in a southern New Jersey county just outside Philadelphia, not far from where the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado Wednesday evening.
Other videos showed water rushing through Newark Liberty International Airport as the storm moved into New York on Wednesday night.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, tweeted at 10:30 p.m. that all flights were suspended and all parking lots were closed due to severe flooding. All train service to the airport also was suspended.
“We’re enduring a historic weather event tonight with record-breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said while declaring a state of emergency in New York City late Wednesday.
— ABC News (@ABC) September 2, 2021
Gov. Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency for New York state.
Firefighters rescued a man from a car stuck in deep floodwaters in New York City. Video shot by New York TV station WABC-TV showed firefighters carry a man from his vehicle to dry ground. The man’s SUV was one of a number of vehicles stuck in the water on the Bronx River Parkway.
Bronx River Parkway has become all river, no parkway… these are the southbound lanes by exit 10B in Yonkers. At least half a dozen cars are totally submerged. @News12BX @News12BK @News12WC pic.twitter.com/SS6zHrkO9P
— Amanda Bossard (@amandabossard) September 2, 2021
The National Weather Service office in New York declared its first-ever set of flash flood emergencies in the region Wednesday night, an alert level that is reserved for “exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon.”
New York City put in place a travel ban until 5 a.m. ET Thursday for all non-emergency vehicles, and a travel advisory was in effect after it expired. All non-emergency vehicles were advised to stay off of streets and highways.
The US National Weather Service recorded 80 millimeters (3.15 inches) of rain in New York’s Central Park in one hour, far surpassing the 49 millimeters (1.94 inches) that fell in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on the night of August 21, which was believed at the time to be the most ever recorded in the park.
New York’s FDR Drive, a major artery on the east side of Manhattan, was underwater by late evening and subway stations and tracks became so flooded that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended all service. Videos posted online showed subway riders standing on seats in cars filled with water.
— Rick (@SubwayCreatures) September 2, 2021
Footage also showed a flooded synagogue in a Williamsburg basement, with congregants trying to rescue partly drenched Torah scrolls.
— Belaaz (@TheBelaaz) September 2, 2021
Other videos showed vehicles submerged up to their windows on major roadways in and around the city and garbage floating down a street in Queens.
BREAKING! Brooklyn, NYC: Numerous roads across New York City are submerged amid ongoing catastrophic flash flooding.
— Lynn (@la17_lynn) September 2, 2021
Costco on Staten Island! pic.twitter.com/gUYVw8tBBN
— Mikey Cee (@MikeyCee24) September 2, 2021
At the US Open tennis tournament in Queens, television footage showed fans who had watched matches under the Arthur Ashe Stadium’s retractable roof slogging through several inches of water as they left.
Few parts of the region were untouched, and residents huddled inside and endured the anxiety brought on by tornado warnings that gradually moved north and east with the storm.
The roof collapsed at the Postal Service building in Kearny, New Jersey, with people inside, police Sgt. Chris Levchak said. Rescue crews were on scene into the night, with no immediate word on the number of people or severity of injuries.
Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties, urging people to stay off the flooded roads. Meteorologists warned that rivers likely won’t crest for a few more days, raising the possibility of more widespread flooding.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 2, 2021
Soaking rains prompted the evacuations of thousands of people after water reached dangerous levels at a dam near Johnstown, a Pennsylvania town nicknamed Flood City.
Ida caused countless school and business closures in Pennsylvania. About 150 roadways maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation were closed and many smaller roadways also were impassable. Several thousand customers were still without power late Wednesday night.
Some areas near Johnstown, whose history includes several deadly floods, saw 127 millimeters (5 inches) or more of rain by mid-afternoon, an inundation that triggered an evacuation order for those downstream from the Wilmore dam. Nearby Hinckston Run Dam was also being monitored but appeared stable by late afternoon.
Both dams were considered high-hazard dams that are likely to kill someone were they to fail.
Evacuees were taken to a nearby high school with help from the Red Cross, National Guard, local transit authority and school transportation services, he said.
The 1889 Johnstown flood killed 2,200 people, a disaster blamed on poor maintenance on the South Fork Dam on the Little Conemaugh River. It sent an 11-meter (36-foot) wall of water roaring into a populated area at 65 kph (40 mph).
High water drove some from their homes in Maryland and Virginia. The storm killed a teenager, two people were not accounted for and a tornado was believed to have touched down along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
The National Weather Service had predicted flooding from what remained of Hurricane Ida, saying steep terrain and even city streets were particularly vulnerable to a band of severe weather that extended from the Appalachians into Massachusetts.
— Ali Bauman (@AliBaumanTV) September 2, 2021
Flash flooding knocked about 20 homes off their foundations and washed several trailers away in Virginia’s mountainous western corner, where about 50 people were rescued and hundreds were evacuated. News outlets reported that one person was unaccounted for in the small mountain community of Hurley.
Water had almost reached the ceilings of basement units when crews arrived at an apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland, on Wednesday. A 19-year-old was found dead, another person was missing and about 200 people from 60 apartments near Rock Creek were displaced, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said Wednesday.
“In many years I have not seen circumstances like this,” Goldstein said.
Tropical Storm Larry was strengthening and moving quickly westward after forming off the coast of Africa earlier Wednesday. Forecasters predicted it would rapidly intensify in a manner similar to Ida, becoming a major hurricane with top wind speeds of 120 mph (193 kph) by Saturday. Kate remained a tropical depression and was expected to weaken without threatening land.