The remnants of Hurricane Ida caused record flooding and a rare state of emergency in New York and New Jersey, killing at least eight people.
The remnants of Hurricane Ida triggered spectacular flash flooding and a rare state of emergency in New York City killing at least eight people in what was called a historic weather event.
Streets turned into rivers while water cascaded down subway platforms, flooding tracks, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority effectively shut down services.
“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 said.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled at LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as at Newark in New Jersey, where video showed a terminal inundated by rainwater.
Flooding closed major roads across multiple boroughs including Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens.
Ida slammed into the southern state of Louisiana over the weekend, bringing severe flooding and tornadoes as it blazed a trail of destruction north.
New York State governor Kathy Hochul declared an emergency as the remnants of the storm caused massive flooding in the country’s financial and cultural capital, leaving the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens badly hit.
The New York City victims ranged from the ages of 2 to 86, police said. They were found at various homes in Queens and Brooklyn.
New Yorkers woke to beautiful blue skies on Thursday as the city slowly edged back to life. Residents moved fallen tree branches from roads as subway services resumed.
But 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.
New Jersey State Governor Phil Murphy also declared a state of emergency, where CNN reported at least one person was killed in the city of Passaic, bringing the confirmed death toll from Ida to 16.
“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 in a tweet as he declared a state of emergency in the city.
The city earlier issued a rare flash flood emergency warning urging residents to move to higher ground.
As footage showed cars submerged on streets across the city, authorities urged residents not drive on flooded roads.
“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 US Open was halted as howling wind and rain blew under the corners of the Louis Armstrong Stadium roof.
The NWS recorded 8 cms of rain in Central Park in just an hour – beating a record set just last month during Storm Henri.
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.
“Significant and life-threatening flash flooding is likely from the mid-Atlantic into southern New England,” the NWS said in a bulletin, adding that three to eight inches of rain could drench the region through Thursday.
In Annapolis, 50 kilometres from the US capital, 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.
“This is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly flash flooding ongoing in Somerset County, as well as others in the area,” the NWS account for the Philadelphia metropolitan area tweeted late Wednesday, along with a video of a car trapped in churning water.
Ida is expected to continue steaming north and bring heavy rainfall on Thursday to New England.
US President Joe Biden is due to travel Friday to Louisiana, where Ida destroyed buildings and left more than a million homes without power.
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