‘One for the record books’: Floods sweep through New York in Ida’s wake

New York: Flooding killed at least nine people, swept away cars, submerged subway lines and grounded flights as the remnants of Hurricane Ida delivered torrential rains across New York and New Jersey.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the flooding on Wednesday night (Thursday AEST) as a “historic weather event,” and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time.

The lights of Times Square in New York are reflected in water on Thursday after Hurricane Ida left behind severe flooding.Credit:AP

Recovery efforts were under way early on Thursday to bring back transportation systems serving millions of residents in the densely populated metropolitan area.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul urged commuters to stay home from work and pleaded for patience while train services were being restored.

“This is one for the record books,” Hochul told CNN.

The storm dumped between 5 and 7.6 centimetres of rain per hour along the Philadelphia to New York City corridor, the National Weather Service said.

Subway service in New York City remained limited on Thursday morning. Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) CEO Janno Lieber said it would take many hours to restore the full service.

Images posted on social media showed water gushing over subway platforms and trains.

At least one person was killed as the flooding inundated the New Jersey city of Passaic, Mayor Hector Lora told CNN.

NBC New York reported that a second person had died in New Jersey and seven had died in New York City, including a 2-year-old boy. Local media reported that people had been trapped in their basements as the storm sent water surging through the city.

Lora said the body of a man in his 70s was retrieved from floodwaters after the vehicle he had been riding in was swept away.

The governors of New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency late on Wednesday.

All non-emergency vehicles were banned from New York City’s streets until 5am (local time) on Thursday due to the weather.

At least five flash flood emergencies were issued on Wednesday evening by the National Weather Service, stretching from west of Philadelphia through northern New Jersey.

All New Jersey Transit rail services apart from the Atlantic City Rail Line were suspended, the service said on its website.

Pedestrians take cover near Columbus Circle in New York City on Wednesday.Credit:AP

Tornadoes spawned by the storm ripped through parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport said on Twitter it was experiencing severe flooding. Flights recommenced close to midnight after being earlier suspended.

More than 200,000 electricity customers were without power early on Thursday in five north-eastern states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to PowerOutage.US, which gathers data from utility companies. There were also outages in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, it said.

The hit to the region came three days after Ida pounded southern Louisiana as a very powerful hurricane. Reconnaissance flights revealed entire communities devastated by wind and floods.


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