Flash flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least 44 people in the New York area overnight into Thursday, including several who perished in basements during the “historic” weather event officials blamed on climate change.
However, New Jersey announced that 26 people had died there.
Dozens have died in six Eastern states — Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia — after the storm brought unprecedented rainfall to some areas. The death toll included a state trooper in Connecticut who was swept away as he responded to a missing person’s call.
The New York Governor declared state of emergency after record rainfall which 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, as reported by NDTV.
“It was like living in the jungle, like tropical rain. Unbelievable. Everything is so strange this year,” he told AFP.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled at LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as at Newark, where video showed a terminal inundated by rainwater.
“We’re all in this together. The nation is ready to help,” President Joe 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.
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, the report said.
“The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles,” he said.
A state trooper died in the neighboring state of Connecticut.
According to reports, thirteen died in New York City, including 11 who could not escape their basements, police said. The victims ranged from the ages of two to 86.
“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 NWS recorded 3.15 inches (80 millimeters) of rain in Central Park in just an hour — beating a record set just last month during Storm Henri.