US floods: 2-year-old boy among 9 dead in New York and New Jersey after month’s worth of rain

State of emergency declared as residents report being trapped in their basements

Chiara Giordano,Sam Hancock
Thursday 02 September 2021 15:00
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Storm Ida floodwater rushes into New York subway station

At least nine people are feared dead after relentless rain from tropical storm Ida continued to fall into the early hours of Thursday and drenched the New York area, leaving major roads and subway stations submerged under water.

The governors of New York and New Jersey were forced to declare a state of emergency, with New York City (NYC) mayor Bill de Blasio doing the same and labelling Ida an “historic weather event”.

At least 3in (8.91cm) of rain fell in just one hour in New York’s Central Park, according to the US National Weather Service, surpassing the 1.94in that fell in one hour during tropical storm Henri on 21 August.

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 on Wednesday inside a home.

They were pronounced dead at the scene, officers said. A further two deaths occurred in New Jersey, NBC New York reports.

Follow live updates on storm Ida as flooding continues

Almost all subway lines in NYC and New Jersey Transit rail services were suspended late on Wednesday, while non-emergency vehicles were banned from the streets until 5am on Thursday. A travel advisory was put in place after the ban expired, however officials continued to advise non-emergency cars remained off streets and highways.

Flash-flood emergencies have also been issued by the National Weather Service, stretching from just west of Philadelphia to northern New Jersey.

New York’s FDR Drive, a major road on the east side of Manhattan, and the Bronx River Parkway were completely flooded by Wednesday evening.

Firefighters rescued a man from a car stuck in deep floodwaters on the parkway. Footage captured by New York TV station WABC-TV showed firemen carrying the man from his vehicle to dry ground after his SUV became one of many vehicles stuck in the water there.

At least one person was killed in flash flooding that inundated the New Jersey city of Passaic, mayor Hector Lora told CNN, who reported that the vehicle the man was travelling in was swept away by the water, causing firefighters to be swept under the vehicle.

A father navigates heavy rains and flooded walkways at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, in New York, while carrying his child

Mr Lora said the body of a man in his seventies was eventually retrieved from floodwaters.

The incident contributed to governor Phil Murphy’s decision to declare 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 will not crest for a few more days, sparking concerns about the possibility of further widespread flooding.

Videos posted to social media show cars on streets almost entirely covered by water, while one striking clip, posted by the New TR News Agency, shows NYC’s Jefferson Street station being flooded by burst pipes.

Storm damage from Ida astounded officials three days after it pounded southern Louisiana, as reconnaissance flights revealed entire communities devastated by wind and floods.

Tornadoes spawned by the storm ripped through parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, images on social media showed.

A worker unblocks drains on a street affected by floodwater in Brooklyn, New York early on Thursday

Meanwhile, the roof collapsed at the Postal Service building in Kearny, New Jersey, last night with people inside, police sergeant Chris Levchak said. Rescue crews were on scene into the early hours of Thursday but there has so far been no update on the number of people injured.

Elsewhere, at least nine homes were destroyed in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia’s NBC10 television station reported.

A man walks down a flooded street in the aftermath of storm Ida, on Wednesday, in Lafitte, Louisiana

It comes after a grim two weeks in the US, which has seen 20 killed in flooding in a small Tennessee town, wildfires threatening Lake Tahoe, tropical storm Henri in the northeast and Ida’s landfall in Louisiana, leaving dozens of residents without power.

Experts believe tropical storm Henri, which hit the northeast of America a little more than a week ago, and caused major flooding, left parts of the region such as New York and New Jersey more vulnerable to Ida.

Additional reporting by agencies

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