The bodycam video tweeted out by the NYPD on Sunday captured the attempts by its officers to get through the floodwaters to reach stranded residents. The footage showed the officers surrounded by filthy, dark water as they wade past floating toys in a flooded basement with light overhead.
One of the officers then dives into the water and is quickly followed by his colleague whose body cam captured their rescue efforts. As they briefly go underwater, the camera reveals how dirty the flood water is, with almost zero visibility.
In its tweet, NYPD said: “Without special equipment they made valiant efforts” but the officers were forced to call the New York City Fire Department due to “locked doors, rising water level and live electricity.”
The bodies of the residents Ang Gelu Lama, his wife Mingma Yangji Sherpa, and their toddler Lopsang were discovered by police divers on Thursday at about 3.30am. “Unfortunately when specialised units arrived, they found three people died from drowning,” confirmed the NYPD.
Recounting their calls for help, Choi Sledge, who lives on the third floor of the building told the New York Times, that she received a frantic phone call from Sherpa around 9.30pm on Wednesday when the water from the flash flood — caused by Hurricane Ida — began pouring into the basement.
“She said, ‘The water is coming in right now,’ and I say: ‘Get out! Get to the third floor!’” Ms Sledge was quoted as saying. “The last thing I hear from them is, ‘The water coming in from the window.’ And that was it.”
Their first-floor neighbour Deborah Torres told the Washington Post that she heard the cries of help from the basement but could not do much as she was trying to save her own life and attempting to get out of the three-story building.
Martha Suarez, the grief-stricken teacher of the toddler, burst into tears after she arrived at the family apartment the next day. “The baby was so cute,” she was quoted as saying by NY Daily News. “Just a happy boy, very nice family... They didn’t call me, they didn’t cancel me, so I was coming as usual.”
According to multiple media reports, about 13 people died from remnants of tropical storm Ida in New York, of whom about 11 were found trapped in the basement apartments.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies