Flooding From Ida Kills Dozens of People in Four States At least 43 people were killed, many of them in basement apartments, in a storm caused by the remnants of a hurricane that struck New Orleans days earlier. Follow our live coverage of extreme weather and climate change.
New Yorkers tried to save neighbors from Ida’s floods. Sometimes they couldn’t. Image Roxanna Florentino looked at the damage in the basement of the building where she lives in Brooklyn on Thursday. Her neighbor, Roberto Bravo, died there on Wednesday night as surging waters poured in. Credit… Anna Watts for The New York Times The torrents from Ida’s waters cascaded through New York City basement doors and windows, turning everyday spaces into death traps. In Woodside, Queens, Deborah Torres said she heard the desperate pleas from the basement of three members of a family, including a toddler. As the water rushed into the building around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Ms. Torres said she heard the family frantically call out to another neighbor, Choi Sledge. Ms. Sledge pleaded with the family to flee. Within moments, however, the cascade of water was too powerful, and it also kept anyone from trying to get downstairs to help. “It was impossible,” said Ms. Torres, who lives on the first floor. “It was like a pool.” The family did not survive. Darlene Lee, 48, was in a basement apartment that belonged to the super of a condominium in Central Parkway, Queens. Flooding burst through a glass sliding door in the apartment, and quickly filled it with about six feet of murky water. The water pinned Ms. Lee between the apartment’s steel front door and the door frame, leaving her wedged and unable to escape. Patricia Fuentes, the property manager, had just gotten off work when she heard Ms. Lee screaming for help and found her stuck. Ms. Fuentes ran to the lobby to call for aid, and Jayson Jordan, the assistant super, and Andy Tapia, a handyman, jumped through the broken glass door to get to Ms. Lee. But they could not save her. Ms. Lee was pinned and Mr. Tapia tried to help her keep her above the chin-deep water. Eventually, the men were able to pry her from the door, but it was too late, Mr. Jordan said. Ms. Lee was killed by the storm. In Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, Ricardo Garcia was awakened by a surge of water that he said exploded through the door of his shared basement apartment at about 10:15 p.m. In moments, it was up to his knees, then his waist, then his chest. Mr. Garcia, 50, banged on the door next to his, waking another roommate, Oliver De La Cruz, who was shaking on Thursday morning as he looked at the water stains that reached to the ceiling of his ruined room. Image Ricardo Garcia, who also lives in the Cypress Hills building’s basement, salvaged what he could from his room. Credit… Anna Watts for The New York Times “I almost died inside here, I almost died, man,” said Mr. De La Cruz, 22. Mr. De La Cruz broke down his bedroom door to escape in his boxer shorts. Mr. Garcia said that he and Mr. De La Cruz climbed to the first floor, struggling against the water pouring down the stairs. Mr. De La Cruz found his upstairs neighbor, Roxanna Florentino, who has lived in the building for 18 years. She said she heard another man, 66-year-old Roberto Bravo, crying out for help from a back bedroom in the basement apartment. Image Roberto Bravo Credit… via Pablo Bravo Ms. Florentino said Mr. Bravo was pleading for help in Spanish, and neighbors were trying to reach him. But water was pouring through both the front door and a window. She realized Mr. Bravo’s screaming had stopped. On Thursday, it was clear that the water had risen so forcefully where Mr. Bravo had been that it tore off the door and broke though the ceiling, leaving dank decay. The Ecuadorean flag hanging on his wall was soaked and muddied, the floor below strewn with debris, along with a water-stained photo of Mr. Bravo in a tuxedo at a formal event. Image Mr. Bravo, in tuxedo, seated at the right. Credit… Anna Watts for The New York Times Ms. Florentino made her first of four 911 calls at 10:15 p.m. Firefighters arrived an hour later. They brought out Mr. Bravo’s body. She tried to sleep but each time she drifted off, she heard Mr. Bravo’s voice, calling a last time. “It’s so hard when someone asks for help and you can’t help them,” she said. Jesse McKinley, Nate Schweber, Amanda Rosa and
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Philadelphia is inundated by floodwaters as Ida leaves a trail of destruction in the Mid-Atlantic. Video Towns and roads were inundated by floodwaters after the remnants of Hurricane Ida battered eastern Pennsylvania. The storm left a trail of destruction, submerging a portion of one major highway and trapping people in apartment buildings. Credit Credit… Matt Rourke/Associated Press PHILELPHIA — As Thursday morning began, Ron Harper, 87, was in his apartment 14 floors above a steadily flooding Philadelphia and wondered when he would ever leave. By late morning, everyone in the building was told to to evacuate, so Mr. Harper found himself walking down 14 flights in an unlit stairwell, wondering when he would ever get back. Still, it could be worse. “I feel so bad for the people who lost property,” he said. Those people were all over the region on Thursday, as residents of Mid-Atlantic States awoke to a trail of destruction left behind by remnants of Ida, which struck Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane days before. Tornadoes had touched down in Maryland and in the Philadelphia suburbs, while rain-swollen rivers had flooded small towns — and were still rising. Officials in Pennsylvania said emergency responders had conducted thousands of water rescues, pulling people out of apartment buildings and cars. Image Surveying damage on a flooded street in Bridgeport, Pa. Credit… Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times Tens of thousands of people were without power in the Philadelphia area, where a portion of the Vine Street Expressway that runs through the center of the city was submerged. “Al Gore gave us a wake-up call 20 years ago and no one paid attention,” said Frank Feingold, 76, a retired probation officer and one of about a dozen people taking photos of the flooded interstate where muddy water was lapping the road signs. The Schuylkill had reached the “major” flood stage designation overnight, leaving cars across the city nearly completely underwater. “We are still doing water rescues across the city; we’ve done that for the past 15 hours now continually,” Adam Thiel, the Philadelphia fire commissioner, said in a news briefing. “We know that the flooding reached levels that have not been seen in 100 years,” he added. “And potentially this will be a record-breaking flood.” The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, emphasized that the storm was part of a pattern of disaster caused by climate change. “Extreme weather events like Ida are not isolated incidents,” he said. “They are another indication of the worsening climate crisis.” In Manayunk, a neighborhood on the Schuylkill, brown floodwaters swirled through the open doors and windows of restaurants along Main Street, including Pizzeria L’angolo. Its owner, Guido Abbate, stood outside and took stock. He had put sandbags outside the business around midnight on Wednesday, he said, but the defenses had been rapidly overwhelmed by the floodwaters. He and his family had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in ovens, refrigerators and other equipment, he said, and he was unable to save any of them. “It was coming so hard that the basement filled up, and it was coming through the heating and air-conditioning vents,” he said. “It came halfway up the windows.” Image The remnants of Hurricane Ida spawned a tornado that touched down in Annapolis, Md., on Wednesday. Credit… Drew Angerer/Getty Images Some of the hardest-hit areas were in the Philadelphia suburbs. In Montgomery County, officials said at a news briefing that “the size and scope of the damage from this storm has been vast,” with record flooding prompting hundreds of water rescues, and a possible tornado. Three people had died in the county, officials said, two apparently from drowning. “After last night’s rain, the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek are continuing to rise,” said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “Both waterways have already surpassed all-time records.” In Bucks County late Wednesday night, Pennsylvania state troopers tried to reach a car that had driven into floodwaters but had to postpone their efforts when conditions grew too severe. When they returned early Thursday morning, the driver, a 65-year-old man, was found dead in the car. The Delaware River was still rising in Bucks County on Thursday afternoon. Gene DiGirolamo, a county commissioner, said to reporters that some parts of the county got 10 inches of rain. “I don’t think it would be over the top to say this storm has been catastrophic,” Mr. DiGirolamo said. The National Weather Service reported at least four tornadoes had touched down in Maryland on Wednesday night and one near Mullica Hill, N.J. Tornadoes in Maryland and New Jersey Tornadoes were reported in Maryland and New Jersey between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday. One of those tornadoes ripped a path through southern Anne Arundel County, Md., tearing the roofs from homes and businesses, punching out windows, downing trees, and closing several blocks of an Annapolis business district. Just south of the city, in the town of Edgewater, power lines lay over the roads, a house sat a few feet back from its foundation and a Toyota Tacoma lay on its roof. An official from the Fire Department said there were no reported injuries, but the storm left residents reeling. “For me it was just like a flash,” said Carlos Zepeda, who rushed to the basement with his daughter and mother-in-law when he heard the noise. “We tried to find a hiding place, and then it was over.” When he came outside, he found his neighbor’s grill in his yard, and out back there was a kitchen sink. It wasn’t his. Reporting was contributed by Jesus Jiménez , Michael Levenson , Isabella Grullón Paz , Eduardo Medina , Derrick Bryson Taylor , Ashley Wong , Brenda Wintrode and Tiffany May . Correction : Sept. 2, 2021 An earlier version of this article misidentified the date that four tornadoes touched down in Maryland and one in New Jersey. It was Wednesday night, not Thursday. Jon Hurdle and
What we know about the people who died in the flooding. Image The 56th Street underpass on Flushing Avenue, where floodwaters rose high and claimed many vehicles attempting to cross earlier. Credit… Dakota Santiago for The New York Times At least 43 people were killed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut as the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the region on Wednesday. Fifteen people are known to have died in New York, including 13 in New York City, most of whom were found at homes in Queens and Brooklyn and ranged in age from 2 to 86, the police said. Official causes of death will be determined later by the city’s medical examiner, the department said. Another victim, Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Weissmandl, was killed after being trapped by floodwaters near the Tappan Zee Bridge while driving home to Mount Kisco, N.Y., from Monsey. At least 23 people were killed in New Jersey, according to Gov. Philip D. Murphy. They included four people whose bodies were found in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, across the street from a flooded firehouse, said Kelly Martins, a city spokeswoman. Two people were killed in Hillsborough, N.J., after they became trapped in their vehicles, a spokeswoman for the town said. Two people were also killed in Bridgewater Township, N.J., according to the police. One man was found dead in Passaic, N.J., after being trapped in a car in rapidly rising floodwaters, Mayor Hector C. Lora said, and a body was found inside a pickup truck in Hunterdon County, N.J., said Henry Schepens, the mayor of Milford. Four people also died in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania officials said, at least three of them from drowning. And at least one person, a Connecticut State Police sergeant, died in Woodbury after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters, the police said in a news conference. Many of the flood’s victims in New York lived in basement apartments, some of which were subterranean dwellings carved out illegally from larger homes and may have lacked the emergency egress required of legitimate apartments. Comparatively low-cost living spaces, they are a refuge of thousands of the city’s poor, even as they are known to be firetraps. Three of the dead in New York City — a 2-year-old boy, a 48-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man — were found at a home on 64th Street in Woodside, Queens. There, Choi Sledge, who lives on the third floor of the house, said she received a frantic call from a woman who lives in the basement apartment, whom she identified as Mingma Sherpa, around 9:30 p.m. “She said, ‘The water is coming in right now,’ and I say: ‘Get out! Get to the third floor!’” Ms. Sledge recalled. “The last thing I hear from them is, ‘The water coming in from the window.’ And that was it.” She identified the other two people who died as Ms. Sherpa’s partner, Lobsang Lama, and their son, known as Ang. The oldest known victim in New York was an 86-year-old woman in Glendale, Queens. Andy Newman , Chelsia Rose Marcius , Jonah E. Bromwich Luis Ferré-Sadurní , Matthew Goldstein , Maria Cramer , Azi Paybarah Sarah Maslin Nir and Tiffany May contributed reporting.
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Biden calls extreme weather ‘one of the great challenges of our time.’ Video transcript Back bars 0:00 / 1:00 – 0:00 transcript ‘This Isn’t About Politics,’ Biden Says Following Hurricane Ida President Biden addressed the damage caused by Hurricane Ida as it moved across the eastern part of the country and said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was on the ground to provide assistance to those affected. We’re reminded that this isn’t about politics. Hurricane Ida didn’t care if you were a Democrat or a Republican, rural or urban, its destruction is everywhere, and it’s a matter of life and death. And we’re all in this together. My message to the people of the Gulf Coast, who I’m going to visit tomorrow: We are here for you. And we’re making sure the response and recovery is equitable, so that those hit hardest get the resources they need and are not left behind. We’re seeing the same story of devastation and heroism across New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well. And I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the first responders, and everyone who has been working through the night, and well into the morning to save lives and get power back. There’s a lot of damage, and I made clear to the governors that my team at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed. President Biden addressed the damage caused by Hurricane Ida as it moved across the eastern part of the country and said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was on the ground to provide assistance to those affected. Credit Credit… Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times President Biden on Thursday said the flash floods that inundated New York City and high-speed winds that left hundreds of thousands without power in Louisiana were a sign that “extreme storms and the climate crisis are here” and that the storms and fires creating life-or-death situations across the country constituted “one of the great challenges of our time.” “Hurricane Ida didn’t care if you were a Democrat or Republican, rural or urban,” Mr. Biden said, urging Congress to pass his economic agenda when it returned from its recess later this month, in order to provide critical investments in electrical infrastructure. “This destruction is everywhere. And it’s a matter of life and death, and we’re all in this together.” Mr. Biden said he had approved a disaster declaration for California after speaking with Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday night about the Caldor fire, which has threatened close to 35,000 structures, burned through 200,000 acres and forced tens of thousands of California residents to evacuate their homes. He said he had also reached out to Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and promised them federal aid. “I made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed.” In remarks on his administration’s response to Ida, Mr. Biden called on private insurance companies to “do the right thing” and cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of a national disaster, instead of denying coverage for living assistance expenses for some homeowners. “Don’t hide behind the fine print and technicality,” Mr. Biden said, noting that some insurance companies were denying coverage for homeowners if they were not under mandatory evacuation orders. “No one fled this killer storm because they were looking for a vacation, or a road trip, or able to stay in a hotel,” he said. “They left their homes because they felt it was flee or risk death. There’s nothing voluntary about that.” In a stern rebuke of the insurance companies, he told them to “do your job. Keep your commitment to your communities you insure. Do the right thing. Pay your policy holders what you owe them to cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of a natural disaster.”
Transit in the New York City area slowly returns after severe flooding. Video Across the city, New Yorkers documented the scene as flood waters overwhelmed buses and subways. Nearly every subway line in the city was shut down. Credit Credit… Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Go here for more updates on transit service in New York on Friday. Service on most of New York City’s subway lines remained disrupted on Friday, two days after remnants of Hurricane Ida dropped record levels of rainfall in the region. Most of the lines were experiencing delays, and a few were partially suspended, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s website. Amtrak announced that service along the Northeast Corridor, between Washington and Boston, would resume on Friday, but all trains between Albany and New York City were canceled. New Jersey Transit announced that all trains were resuming regular service on Friday, except Montclair-Boonton, Gladstone, Pascack Valley and Raritan Valley. Trains there have been suspended while crews assess damage from the storm. The Long Island Rail Road resumed full service on most branches by Thursday afternoon, with delays on trains traveling east of Mets-Willets Point on the Port Washington Branch. Service on most of the Metro-North Railroad lines remained disrupted. The delays followed a night of intense rainfall that flooded streets and train stations and stranded thousands of travelers. Phil Eng, president of the Long Island Rail Road, said at a news conference Thursday that the suspension of service was necessary. “It’s not a light decision to make, to shut down service, but with the visibility at near-zero, and seeing the devastation that Ida was causing elsewhere, it was the right call,” he said. Dozens of flights were also canceled or delayed at Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport, and at least 370 flights were canceled Thursday morning at Newark Liberty International Airport. The lower level of Terminal B in Newark remained closed after flooding overnight. Janno Lieber, acting chairman of the M.T.A., said on Thursday on CNN that passengers on 15 to 20 subway cars had to be rescued in the storm. No one was injured, he said. “The subway system in New York is not a submarine,” Mr. Lieber said. “We definitely are subject to weather and water, especially when, like last night, the surface level, street level, drainage and sewer system is overwhelmed.” Second perspective on 28th St & 7 Ave subway station (Chelsea, Manhattan) pic.twitter.com/CYQvPkgeVg — Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) September 2, 2021 Extreme storms have battered New York’s 24-hour train service in recent years. Service was stalled for several days following damage from Sandy in 2012. And in July of this year, rains from Tropical Storm Elsa created mass flooding that also led to waist-deep water in the city’s subway stations. At the 96th Street Subway station in Manhattan on Wednesday, Mario Villa, a cook at Tartina, waited at least two hours for a train to his home in Queens. At midnight, sitting on a stalled No. 1 train beside a co-worker, he said, “We’ll wait. We don’t get upset. We just have to wait.” Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard , Stacy Cowley , Andy Newman , Azi Paybarah , Christiaan Triebert and Ashley Wong .
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At least 500 abandoned cars are towed from N.Y.C. streets. Image The New York Police Department said it had towed 500 abandoned cars after the floods hit. Credit… Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters One of the lasting images of Wednesday night’s storm will be dramatic videos and pictures of cars floating on the streets and of desperate drivers attempting to get home. Some drivers got out of their cars and simply left their vehicles on the road to get to safety. As of Thursday afternoon, the New York Police Department had towed around 500 cars that had been abandoned, according to a department spokesman. (This number doesn’t account for any cars that might have been towed by a private company.) The Police Department’s Twitter account said early on Thursday morning that people looking for their cars could call 311 to find out where they had been taken. Some who abandoned cars on the road had harrowing tales. Once the storm started, Peter Walker, 32, left the U.S. Open match he was attending in Queens and tried to drive to his parent’s house in Connecticut. Almost as soon as he started driving, he regretted his decision. “There was so much rain and water everywhere,” he said. “I could barely see anything.” Mr. Walker didn’t get into real trouble until around 11 p. m. when he arrived at Eastchester in the Bronx and tried to go through an underpass after Exit 13, he said. He saw cars submerged in the water and decided to play it safe, turning off his car and waiting for the water to go down. But after he saw a Volkswagen Atlas — the exact same model as his car — make it through the water, he decided to try do the same. “The water came up over the hood, but I decided to keep going quickly so I wouldn’t get stuck,” he said. “I wanted to keep my momentum, but eventually the engine died, and I was stuck in all this water.” He knew he couldn’t get out. “I opened a rear window in case I needed to escape, but then the water started seeping in,” he said. He waited in his car for a frightening 90 minutes until his father arrived in his car to rescue him. Enterprise, the company from whom he rented his car, towed the vehicle after he left. “The woman on the phone was so nice,” said Mr. Walker. “She said this wasn’t my fault, and it was happening to everyone and to just leave the car and get to safety.” Precious Fondren and
The storm’s toll highlighted New York City’s shadow world of basement apartments. Video Flooding in the New York region from the remnants of Hurricane Ida created dangerous conditions after basement apartments flooded in the storm. Credit Credit… Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times Cramped basement apartments have long been a prevalent piece of New York City’s vast housing stock, a shadowy network of illegal rentals that often lack basic safety features like more than one way to get out, and that yet are a vital source of shelter for many immigrants like Robert Bravo, who lived in a dark basement unit in Brooklyn that he tried to cheer up with personal mementos. But after Wednesday’s record-shattering rainfall, the underground units turned into tormented scenes of life and death: Of the 13 people known to have died so far in New York City in Wednesday’s storm, at least 11 were in basement units, nearly as many dead as in Louisiana, where Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday. They included Mr. Bravo, whose apartment turned into a death trap as water gushed into his unit and quickly overwhelmed him. That people living in illegal basement apartments face danger is not new. But while the worry has traditionally focused on fires or, to a lesser degree, carbon monoxide poisoning, climate change has now made these low-lying homes increasingly treacherous for a different reason: the likelihood of deadly flooding, when a wall of water blocks what is often the only means of escape. “If there was ever proof that we need to address this basement issue, this is it,” said Annetta Seecharran, the executive director of the Chhaya Community Development Corporation, a group that works on housing issues for low-income South Asian and Indo-Caribbean New Yorkers. “We’re going to continue to have these climate-related issues.” The floods on Wednesday have placed fresh scrutiny on New York City’s regulation of basement apartments. Because most are illegal, there is no reliable count of how many exist, but the number is likely in the tens of thousands. It is not clear whether all of the homes where people died during the storm on Wednesday were illegal units. But at a home in Woodside, Queens, where a 2-year-old boy and his parents were found dead, a certificate of occupancy shows that the basement had not been approved for residential use. City records also showed two complaints of illegal basements in 2012 for another Queens home where an 86-year-old woman was found dead. The complaints were closed after city building inspectors could not gain access to the basement. A spokesman for the Department of Buildings said on Thursday that the department was investigating the deaths, but did not have “any records of any previously issued violations at these properties related to illegal conversion issues.” Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Chelsia Rose Marcius and Ali Watkins contributed reporting. Mihir Zaveri, Matthew Haag, Adam Playford and
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Wreckage everywhere, Niagara Falls in the streets: Scenes from Ida’s path. Image In Elizabeth, N.J., the power of a flooded river was visible long after the waters receded. Credit… Dakota Santiago for The New York Times On Thursday the sun was out and the sky was a brilliant blue. The wreckage from the night before was everywhere. The remains of Hurricane Ida left more than 20 people dead as it roared through New York and New Jersey, scattering cars, shutting down the New York subway system, downing trees, flooding basements and submerging dense city neighborhoods in chest-high water. The smell of seawater permeated New Jersey towns far from the Atlantic coast. Intense rains had lasted for hours — in just one of which a record 3.15 inches cascaded on Central Park, topping the previous high of 1.94 inches set just 11 days earlier during Hurricane Henri. The storm’s severity caught officials off guard. “We did not know that between 8:50 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. last night that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls-level water to the streets of New York,” said Gov. Kathy C. Hochul, who declared a state of emergency in New York City on Thursday, in her second week in office. “Could that have been anticipated? I want to find out.” Residents who had taken precautions against Henri said they felt “blindsided” by the wrath and suddenness of Ida, a full two levels down from hurricane force when it hit the northeast. “I just don’t understand how it happened,” said Secoyah Brown, 30, owner of a two-month-old shop, Whisk & Whiskey, in the low-lying Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus. Three feet of water had surged into her basement. At the height of the storm on Wednesday, she opened the store to 10 neighbors who needed temporary shelter. Ms. Brown spent the night in the shop, watching the emergency storm alerts flashing on her smartphone and wondering what else the storm might bring. “It’s very, very stressful,” she said. “We just got past Henri and now this.” In Passaic, N.J., Mayor Hector Lora posted on Facebook that 60 residents who were evacuated on Wednesday evening were returned home. But there were still people unaccounted for, and abandoned cars throughout the city. Plus the threat of more flooding when the Passaic River crests. “We have any additional concern of flooding, but as of right now in our downtown area we’ve been able to send people back home,” the mayor said. Travelers were trapped at airports, where more than 500 flights were canceled; they were stranded on highways that suddenly became impassable rivers; thousands were marooned at the U.S. Open tennis center in Queens, where rainwater gushed through the domed roof, suspending play. At Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Diego Schwartzman was playing Kevin Anderson in the tournament’s second round, officials announced that the subway was not running and the streets around the stadium were closed, said Lynn Moffat, 65, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. “People were getting texts on their phone,” she said, “and phone calls from people saying: ‘The roads are impassable. There’s trees down everywhere, there’s flooding everywhere, don’t go out.’” Reporting was contributed by Kevin Armstrong, Lauren Hard, Sean Piccoli, Nate Schweber, Precious Fondren and Matthew Goldstein.
In pictures: Ida tears through the New York City area. Mamaroneck, N.Y. Desiree Rios for The New York Times Cranford, N.J. Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Elizabeth, N.J. Stephanie Keith for The New York Times The Bronx Desiree Rios for The New York Times Manville, N.J. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times Manville, N.J. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times Queens Benjamin Norman for The New York Times Queens Benjamin Norman for The New York Times Queens Benjamin Norman for The New York Times Queens Benjamin Norman for The New York Times Bridgeport, Pa. Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times Queens Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times Millburn, N.J. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times Bridgeport, Pa. Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times Queens Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Queens Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Lincoln Park, N.J. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images Brooklyn Anna Watts for The New York Times The Bronx Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times Queens Dakota Santiago for The New York Times Queens John Taggart for The New York Times Millburn, N.J. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times Millburn, N.J. Bryan Anselm for The New York Times The Bronx David Dee Delgado/Getty Images Mullica Hill, N.J. Monica Herndon/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press Mamaroneck, N.Y. Mike Segar/Reuters Times Square Stephanie Keith for The New York Times 28th Street station Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, Manhattan Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Times Square Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Queens Dakota Santiago for The New York Times Brooklyn Dakota Santiago for The New York Times Queens Dakota Santiago for The New York Times slide 1 slide 2 slide 3 slide 4 slide 5 slide 6 slide 7 slide 8 slide 9 slide 10 slide 11 slide 12 slide 13 slide 14 slide 15 slide 16 slide 17 slide 18 slide 19 slide 20 slide 21 slide 22 slide 23 slide 24 slide 25 slide 26 slide 27 slide 28 slide 29 slide 30 slide 31 slide 32 slide 33 slide 34 The remnants of Hurricane Ida pounded the region on Wednesday, dumping record rain and creating flooding in the five boroughs, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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Storm caused chaos for fans and matches at U.S. Open. Image Credit… Danielle Parhizkaran/USA Today Sports, via Reuters In tennis, if something bad happens in the middle of a point — say, a cat runs across the court — then everyone involved agrees to “play a let.” Suffice it to say, the United States Tennis Association would not mind playing a let over how it handled its evening session of tennis on Wednesday night. With a storm packing historic levels of rainfall, and heavy winds approaching the New York metropolitan area, the U.S.T.A. did nothing. Even though the New York Mets, who play on the other side of the railroad tracks, canceled their Wednesday game on Tuesday night, the U.S.T.A. did not cancel its scheduled matches or tell fans to stay home. The U.S.T.A. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade renovating the tennis center, including putting roofs on its two main stadiums, so it could keep at least some matches playing in inclement weather. That is what the Police Department told tennis officials was on the way at a 4:30 p.m. meeting: “heavy rain.” As the storm was zeroing in on New York City, nearly 22,000 people descended on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, many of them arriving by public transportation, even though cancellations of matches on field courts began at 5:30 p.m., and at 6:10 p.m. all matches on uncovered courts were postponed. The U.S.T.A. opened the grounds to evening session ticket holders at 6:30 p.m. An hour later, it was clear the strength of the storm had far surpassed what the tennis officials had thought. By the early evening, thunderous rain pounded the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the wind blew rain sideways into Louis Armstrong Stadium, forcing officials to stop play there at 8:15 p.m. Shortly after 9 p.m. the stadium was deemed unplayable and fans were sent into Ashe. Since the roof of the stadium was closed, fans were not asked to leave. Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the U.S.T.A., said the organization conducts briefings twice a day with police and continuously tracks the weather and its potential impact on the tournament. “Yesterday the ongoing forecast called for heavy rains over the course of the late afternoon and into the night. The U.S.T.A. also conducts daily briefings with the N.Y.P.D. at 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The U.S.T.A. was not advised to cancel the evening session at these times.” When the National Weather Service issued the first flash flood warning in New York City history, just before 9:30 p.m., officials decided to continue play rather than send fans out into the storm. Before long, rail and subway service was severely delayed or suspended and roads around the tennis center had become flooded, though the No. 7 train ultimately did provide service through the end of the matches. At least eight U.S.T.A. employees spent the night at the tennis center. Countless fans made treacherous journeys home. Lynn Moffat, 65, of Sleepy Hollow stayed late into the night, and watched as everyone around her got messages and phone calls from people saying: “‘The roads are impassable. There’s trees down everywhere, there’s flooding everywhere, don’t go out,’” she said. Ms. Moffat attended the match with her brother, and said that after pressuring tennis officials to let them stay until the rain cleared, they made a two-hour trip through Manhattan to get a friend home. “I’ve never seen devastation like what I saw last night,” she said. “I’ve been through 9/11. I’ve been through snow storms. You would see dozens and dozens of cars all banged up and turned around or underwater, I mean it was just phenomenal.” Rit Bottorf, 38, of Prospect Heights was also at Arthur Ashe Stadium with his mother. Mr. Bottorf said that once the 7 train was running again, they made it to Times Square just as trains stopped running. “There were people just like, sitting and laying on the ground because there was no train service, they had no way to get home,” he said. “I was able to get an Uber at the last second for the last leg of the trip.” Andrea Joffe, 38, stayed at the tennis center until 1:30 a.m. She said she had no idea how bad the weather was because she hadn’t been outside for hours and had not received alerts. When the tennis ended she ordered an Uber, but when she went outside to meet her driver, police told her the park was flooded and cars could not get through. “They ended up putting us on a huge police bus and taking us outside the park,” she said. “Even then it was very difficult to find your Uber because around the space where we were waiting, everything was flooded.” She ended up connecting with a driver and paying $300 to get to her home in White Plains, a journey that usually costs a third of that price. “It was such a scary ride. There were people driving the wrong way on the highway because it was flooded, and you couldn’t pass the cars that were abandoned,” she said. “I definitely prayed.” Matthew Futterman, Precious Fondren and
A delivery man struggled through floodwaters. The man who filmed him wants to give him $1,700. Image Credit… Johnny Miller The image struck Johnny Miller right away: a hooded delivery man waded through waist-deep water, clutching someone’s takeout order in a white plastic bag and wheeling his electric bicycle, while all around him people in cars waited for firefighters to rescue them. Mr. Miller, 40, a freelance photographer, captured the scene on video, as he stood at the intersection of North 11th and Roebling Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 10:02 p.m. on Wednesday getting soaked by the ferocious storm. It stood out to him as a vivid example of the city’s economic inequality. “Seeing this guy push his bicycle past these people in Mercedes to deliver Chinese food just turned my stomach,” Mr. Miller said. “Some of us have the privilege to not work during a disaster and some of us don’t.” He tweeted the clip from his account Unequal Scenes, which documents poverty and inequality around the globe: “And through it all! @Grubhub delivery still out there bringing your dinner,” he wrote, though he noted that he was unsure if the person worked for Grubhub or a different delivery service. And through it all! @Grubhub delivery still out there bringing your dinner #ida #flooding #brooklyn pic.twitter.com/2baP69JXhW — Unequal Scenes (@UnequalScenes) September 2, 2021 The clip immediately began to spread, and has since been viewed over six million times. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York shared the video, urging people not to order delivery during the storm: “If it’s too dangerous for you, it’s too dangerous for them,” she wrote. “Raid your cabinets or ask a neighbor for help.” Others, including Eliza Orlins, a former candidate for Manhattan district attorney, and the sports journalist David Aldridge, echoed that plea. “You can’t have a bowl of cereal for dinner on a night like this??” Mr. Aldridge wrote. Food delivery companies offer extra money to delivery drivers when demand is high, which can result in dangerous incentives as drivers weigh a particularly lucrative night against risks to their health and safety. By midday Thursday, more than 10 news organizations had reached out to Mr. Miller offering money to license the clip, he said. He intends to contribute the funds, more than $1,700 so far, to the delivery man in the film — but first he has to determine his identity. “I really hope I can find him,” Mr. Miller said. Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.
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Floods provide major test of Gov. Hochul’s crisis-management abilities Image Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency early Wednesday morning for New York City and many surrounding counties. Credit… Stephanie Keith for The New York Times For Kathy C. Hochul, the newly installed governor of New York, the fallout from Ida’s torrential rains will be the first major test of her ability to respond to an immediate crisis. Ms. Hochul, who succeeded Andrew M. Cuomo last week after he resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, has already begun to pull the levers of government to respond to the reports of floods and power outages. Early on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul declared a state of emergency in New York City and many of its surrounding counties on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, to give local officials more flexibility to quickly respond to the storm’s disruptions. Later, at a briefing in Queens with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as other elected officials, she said that officials were caught off guard by the ferocity of the rainfall. “We did not know that between 8:50 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls-level water to the streets of New York,” Ms. Hochul said. “Could that have been anticipated? I want to find out.” She added, “There were warnings, tornado warnings all throughout the evening, but I’ll see whether or not more could have been done.” Ms. Hochul said that she had spoken with President Biden, who “offered any assistance” as New York begins to assess the extent of the damage. And she said that she had directed the Department of Financial Services to get in touch with residents whose homes were flooded to help them file insurance claims to receive reimbursements for the damages. Ms. Hochul said that while the state had learned valuable lessons from Hurricane Sandy, the street-level flash floods that occurred on Wednesday night underscored the city’s vulnerabilities, adding the possibility of such floods “were unknown before.” At a subsequent briefing on Long Island, Ms. Hochul defended the state’s response, claiming that projections had underestimated the amount of rain that fell in the region. “We talked to the meteorologists,” Ms. Hochul said. “They do their best predictions, but this is not the only place in the country where people have been stunned by a turn of events.” Before the briefings, Ms. Hochul had gone on a media blitz to provide updates of the storm’s effects following reports of inundated subway stations and multiple deaths, urging people to stay off the roads and avoid any unnecessary travel. Near midnight on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul went on CNN and NY1. By 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, she appeared on those news channels again, as well as two local radio stations. “We knew there was a storm coming, but that was actually unprecedented and now we’re still dealing with the aftermath and the loss of life is definitely heartbreaking,” Ms. Hochul told WINS (1010). In many ways, her response to the extensive storm damage will provide a real-time sampling of how Ms. Hochul preforms as the state’s highest executive in a high-pressure situation, and shed light on her leadership style as she seeks to work with local officials and comfort distressed New Yorkers. Ms. Hochul’s response may offer a study in contrasts to Mr. Cuomo, who basked in his role as crisis manager. But Mr. Cuomo drew criticism for favoring a top-down approach to governing in which he would often overrule local officials and hold storm briefings without Mr. de Blasio, his political nemesis. “The report was three to six inches over the course of a whole day, which was not a particularly problematic amount,” Mr. de Blasio said during the briefing on Thursday. “That turned into the biggest single hour of rainfall in New York City history with almost no wind.” Ms. Hochul was originally scheduled to hold an event in Yonkers on Wednesday morning to sign the state’s recently extended eviction moratorium into law, but her office canceled the appearance shortly after declaring the state of emergency.
Here’s how much rain fell across the New York City area. Video The New York area was under a state of emergency on Thursday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida led to at least eight deaths and disrupted subway service. Credit Credit… Stephanie Keith for The New York Times Record levels of rain fell across the New York City area on Wednesday as the remains of Hurricane Ida moved through. Here are the total amounts measured by the National Weather Service between 4 a.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday at locations across the region. Central Park: 7.19 inches
Kennedy International Airport: 2.77 inches
Long Island Mac Arthur Airport: 2.63 inches
Farmingdale, Republic Airport, N.Y.: 2.01 inches
Shirley, Brookhaven Airport, N.Y.: 1.84 inches
Westhampton Beach, Francis S. Gabreski Airport: 1.48 inches
Newark Liberty International Airport: 8.44 inches.
Somerville, Somerset Airport, N.J.: 2.92 inches
Trenton, Mercer County Airport, N.J.: 5.6 inches
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New Jersey governor said he planned to declare Ida a major disaster. Image Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey surveys homes damaged by the storm in the Mullica Hill area. Credit… Joe Lamberti/Camden Courier-Post, via Associated Press Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said Thursday afternoon that the remnants of Hurricane Ida had killed at least 23 people in his state and that he had asked President Biden to declare the state a major disaster, shortly after he viewed the wreckage left by Hurricane Ida in southern New Jersey. “The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles by flooding and were overtaken by the water,” he said, offering his thoughts and prayers to the families of the deceased. Mr. Murphy called the storm an “unspeakable, extraordinary event” that should serve as a reminder of the effects of climate change. “There is no other way to put it,” Mr. Murphy said as he stood in front of homes in Mullica Hill that were destroyed by a tornado Wednesday night. “The world is changing. These storms are coming in more frequently, with more intensity.” Mr. Murphy said that at the height of the storm, 93,000 households had lost power and that as of Thursday afternoon, close to half of them had not had power restored. Mr. Biden said on Thursday that he had reached out to Mr. Murphy and Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and promised them federal aid. “I made clear to the governors that my team at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed,” he said. Mr. Murphy spent the morning in Harrison Township, a southern New Jersey suburb in Gloucester County, where tornadoes destroyed and damaged stretches of houses. Two large farms were devastated by the storm, including one that lost 100 of its cows, Louis Manzo, the mayor of Harrison, told reporters Thursday morning. He said that any funding that comes from the federal government from the infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month would go to building defenses against future climate disasters. Stephen M. Sweeney, the president of the State Senate, joined the governor and other local and state officials who surveyed the damage, and said Gloucester County looked like “a bomb hit in some places.” “Anyone who is a global warming denier, take a look at what’s going around,” said Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat whose district covers Gloucester Township. “These things are getting stronger and there is more damage. We’ve got to do something.” Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.
After pummeling the New York area, Ida soaks New England. Image People waiting for a bus in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The remnants of Hurricane Ida moved into New England on Thursday. Credit… Stephanie Keith for The New York Times The remnants of Hurricane Ida swept across parts of southern New England on Thursday, flooding streets and homes while not causing the catastrophic damage that just hours earlier had paralyzed the New York City area and led to the deaths of dozens of people. The storm dumped more than nine inches of rain on New Bedford, Mass., and nearly seven inches on Middletown, Conn., while Portsmouth, R.I., was drenched with more than eight inches of rain and about four inches fell on Hudson, Maine, according to the National Weather Service. A Connecticut State Police sergeant died after his vehicle was swept away in floodwaters in Woodbury, Conn., on Thursday morning, the authorities said. The trooper, Brian Mohl, who had been with the department for 26 years, called for help at 3:30 a.m. and was later found after a search by divers, helicopters and others, the authorities said. He was presumed dead while being flown to a hospital, where his death was confirmed, the state police said. Sergeant Mohl “has given his life for our greater good,” Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut said at a news conference. In Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod, a tornado touched down at about 1:45 a.m., with winds of about 75 miles per hour, the Weather Service said. The tornado caused minor damage to one house and some tree damage, but no one was injured, according to Lt. Peter Benson of the Dennis Police Department. “From talking to the people in the home, they realized what was going on and they sheltered in the basement,” he said. In North Kingstown, R.I., firefighters evacuated 15 people from an apartment complex where storm water had come out of the electrical outlets, the fire chief, Scott Kettelle, said. No one was injured, he said, but two first-floor apartments had water damage. Concerns about storm water runoff and overflowing sewers prompted the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to close shellfish harvesting in Narragansett Bay and in coastal salt ponds. Sewer water and storm water runoff can contaminate oysters and other shellfish, which are prized delicacies in the state. In Portsmouth, R.I., the flooding caused a road to crack apart and buckle, and water service in the area was “extremely limited,” the police there said. In Waltham, Mass., the police shared an image of several school buses submerged in floodwater while the police in Bristol, R.I., shared a photo of submerged cars. In Northbridge, Mass., roughly 43 miles southwest of Boston, the police reported that the Blackstone River had flooded backyards and had reached roads. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said it had been in contact with communities across the state to determine the extent of the damage. “At this time, the observed damage is mostly street flooding and other minor flooding as well as trees/power lines down resulting in scattered power outages,” the agency said in a statement. At 11 a.m., Amtrak announced that all service between Washington and Boston had been canceled for the day. The Weather Service had warned of life-threatening flash flooding in urban areas, including on highways and below underpasses, and in areas near streams and small rivers. Neil Mello, chief of staff to the mayor of New Bedford, said that despite the report that nine inches of rain had fallen there, most of the city had received about five inches. The Fire Department was busy overnight pumping out flooded basements, he said, and some low-lying intersections had flooded. But “compared to winter storms and other storm events, the impact on the city traffic-wise and power-wise was pretty modest,” Mr. Mello said. Several rivers in Connecticut had approached or had crested above moderate flood stage, the Weather Service said, including the Mount Hope River in Ashford, the Quinnipiac River in Southington and the North Branch Park River in Hartford. Although the rainfall had moved out of the area by the middle of Thursday, there were still many flooded roads throughout southern New England. “It will take time for the water to recede in these areas,” the Weather Service in Boston warned on Thursday morning. “Do not attempt to cross any flooded roads this morning. Turn around don’t drown!” Rhode Island has already seen two tropical storms make landfall this hurricane season: Henri last month, and Elsa in July. Michael Levenson, Johnny Diaz and
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Drivers abandoned cars along New Jersey roads as floods surged. Image Abandoned cars in Lodi, N.J., on Thursday. Credit… Seth Wenig/Associated Press Heavy rains and flooding in New Jersey on Wednesday night led some desperate drivers to abandon their cars on roadways, prompting the authorities to ask for help on Thursday removing them. The New Jersey Department of Transportation said on Twitter that it had asked state, county and local police to remove those vehicles from state and interstate roadways. NJDOT has requested the New Jersey State, County & Municipal Police remove any abandoned or disabled vehicle on State & Interstate Roadways – Statewide, effective at 4 am today. If your vehicle was removed, contact your local police non-emergency number. Stay Home, Stay Safe — NJDOT (@NewJerseyDOT) September 2, 2021 “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” the department said on Twitter. The department said it could not immediately provide additional information about the number of vehicles that were abandoned. On Thursday morning, dozens of abandoned vehicles sat along the shoulders of Route 3 in the northern part of the state, Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City, and the Garden State Parkway, their hazard lights blinking. Several cars were facing the wrong direction against the flow of traffic as police cars pulled up beside them. By Thursday afternoon, many of the cars remained stranded. All interstate highways were open, according to the Department of Transportation, but many state highways remained partly closed because of flooding, downed trees, and wires and debris on the roadways, said James Barry, a department spokesman. “The department is still assessing damage,” he said in an email. “In some areas it is not possible to evaluate or begin repairs until the floodwaters recede.” Gov. Phil Murphy said the state would review the messaging system to try to understand why people were driving even after alerts went out about tornadoes and flash flooding. “The alerts did go out,” he told reporters Thursday morning. “There were too many cars on the road. Thank God most of them were abandoned and people got out safely, but that was not the case for everyone.” In Hillsborough, two people were killed after they became trapped in their vehicles, said Pam Borek, a spokeswoman for the town in Somerset County. The town’s fire department spent hours Thursday morning rescuing people who were stranded in their cars, she said. In Paterson, Tiffany Davis, 36, walked outside her three-story building early Thursday morning to survey the damage of the storm on Governor Street, a block from the fast-flowing Passaic River. A 21-foot boat, still on its trailer but unattached to a vehicle, stood in the middle of the road. A sedan that had been moved by the rushing waters was pressed against her neighbor’s house. The air smelled like sewage. She pointed to eight vehicles that had been stranded on a gravel and grass lot by her apartment. “Every car in that lot is finished,” Ms. Davis said. Maria Cramer, Kevin Armstrong and