At least 14 deaths were reported in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as the remnants of Hurricane Ida assailed the Northeast, sparking torrential rain, flash-flood emergencies and even a tornado warning in the Bronx.
In New York City, eight people died from being trapped in flooded basements. Five people died in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Pennsylvania officials reported multiple fatalities outside Philadelphia, with no additional details, according to The Associated Press.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency for the city and Gov. Kathy Hochul for the state. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in all 21 counties.
Videos on social media showed city subway platforms deluged by stormwater. Parts of Newark International Airport appeared flooded, and there were growing reports of cars trapped in rising waters.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado in New Jersey near Trenton and neighboring Pennsylvania, urging residents to take cover immediately. Footage of the storm showed a large funnel cloud passing a bridge connecting the two states, and local media released initial reports of severe damage to some homes. Another tornado was reported in Annapolis, Maryland, causing widespread damage and leaving about 2,500 people without power.
Rain poured in sheets across the nation’s largest city as New Yorkers’ phones buzzed with a National Weather Service warning declaring the flash floods a “dangerous and life-threatening situation.” The sky lit up repeatedly throughout the evening with bright blasts of lightning, and the streets in the western part of Queens, turned into swift, shallow rivers.
The NWS urged New York City residents to move to high ground amid flash flooding and to not attempt to travel unless fleeing a dangerous area. Central Park saw more than 3 inches of rain in a single hour, surpassing the 1.94 inches in an hour that occurred during Tropical Storm Henri on Aug. 21, which was believed to be the record.
“This is a PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION,” the NWS wrote on Twitter just before 10 p.m. EDT. “SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!”
Parts of the tri-state area had seen 6, 7 or 8 inches of rain in 48 hours. The National Weather Service office in New York said it was the first time it had ever issued a flash flood emergency for New York City.
“We are seeing way too many reports of water rescues and stranded motorists,” the NWS in New York said. “Do not drive through flooded roadways. You do not know how deep the water is and it is too dangerous.”
Later Wednesday, Gov. Hochul declared a state of emergency to aid residents impacted by the storm.
“New Yorkers are very concerned tonight and they’re scared,” she told CNN Wednesday night, urging residents to stay put while adding she could not guarantee rescue workers would be able to rescue those who leave their homes and get trapped in floodwaters.
The storm also prompted suspensions at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, underway in Queens, amid a tornado watch.
Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 behemoth, packing sustained winds of about 150 mph and causing “catastrophic” damage across Louisiana. Much of New Orleans remains without power days later, although officials have confirmed just seven fatalities related to the storm so far. The true toll is likely to rise as rescue workers sift through neighborhoods devastated by Ida.
The storm diminished in strength as it moved inland and has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, but it has continued to wallop states with severe winds and rain.
Alexander Kaufman contributed reporting.
This article has been updated with reports of deaths and damage.
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