Nearly 30 rescues made from ‘raging waters’ amid ‘historic’ New York rainfall, governor says

‘This event was historic, in some areas was record-shattering, and it is the most rain ever recorded in a single day in a place like JFK ever – not just this summer, not this year, but ever’

Sheila Flynn
Saturday 30 September 2023 20:49 BST
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Flash flooding causes chaos in New York City

Emergency teams made 28 rescues on Friday in New York as heavy rainfall and flash flooding plagued the region, Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday.

“I want to thank all the first responders who did show up, including our Swift Water teams who made 28 rescues – 28 rescues in raging waters to help save New Yorkers in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island yesterday,” she said. “And thousands of utility crews have also been on standby, ready to keep our state moving.”

The governor announced during the press conference on Saturday morning that full weekend MTA services had been restored thanks to workers’ diligent efforts under challenging conditions.

“There are some New Yorkers who’ve never seen the likes of which we experienced yesterday in their entire lives,” she said. “This event was historic, in some areas was record-shattering, and it is the most rain ever recorded in a single day in a place like JFK ever – not just this summer, not this year, but ever.

“And the record is still coming in,” she said. “We’re still monitoring, the rain is still falling. And it’s such in some places, it’ll be the most rain that has ever hit in 70 years.”

Before the end of Friday, the National Weather Service had already reported record amounts of rainfall at JFK Airport, Central Park, LaGuardia Airport and Bridgeport Airport.

“This was the kind of rain that was once unimaginable – called them ‘once-in-a-century storms,’” Gov Hochul said. “But this is the third time since I was sworn in two years ago [that] I’ve had a ‘once-in-a-century storm.’ This includes the historic flooding we had in the Hudson Valley this summer, which was deemed a 1,000-year flooding event, so it’s Mother Nature at her most powerful ... and, of course, we know this is a result of climate change.

Flash flooding hit parts of the Northeast on Friday as heavy rainfall shattered records

“This is unfortunately what we have to expect as the new normal. It makes us be more prepared than ever before. And it requires us to focus on resiliency to head off the horrific impacts that could be there if we’re not ready for the next storm.”

The governor declared a state of emergency on Friday amid the downpours while joining New York City Mayor Eric Adams in urging residents to stay home. She thanked New Yorkers for heeding that call during her conference on Saturday along with fellow state officials who jumped into action as threatening weather loomed.

“Our emergency responders, our Swift Water teams, you don’t call them to come to a region once the crisis has already started,” she said. “You have to pre-position them, and that’s exactly what we did.”

People wait for the bus as trains get cancelled due to flooding from heavy rains. The governor specifically thanked bus drivers on Saturday for helping to keep the city moving

Gov Hochul said on Saturday that officials continued to assess the damage from Friday and ensuing costs.

“I spoke with the White House yesterday, and I spoke with majority leader [Sen Chuck] Schumer, who contacted me immediately,” the governor said. “They’re prepared to support an emergency declaration, a declaration of disaster, from the federal government, if necessary. There is a threshold that has to be met – $30m worth of damage ...it’ll take a number of weeks for us to add up and calculate that.”

A spokeswoman for NYC Mayor Adams told The Independent on Saturday that “we are in the process of assessing the damage.”

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