Over 40 people have now lost their lives in catastrophic flooding after Hurricane Ida’s remnants brought record rain to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of USA.
Officials in New Jersey reported 23 people have died in the state, while 16 lost their lives in New York State, including 13 in New York City. Other fatalities were reported in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut.
National Weather Service (NWS) New York said 01 September was the wettest day on record for Newark (8.44 inches / 214 mm of rain) and LaGuardia (6.89 inches / 175 mm). Some areas of the region recorded more than 9 inches of rain during the storm, including Cranford, NJ with 9.05 inches (230 mm), Glen Cove NY with 9.09 inches (231 mm) and Staten Island, NY with 9.64 inches (245 mm).
During the evening of 01 September, Newark in New Jersey received 3.24 inches (82.3 mm) and Central Park in New York saw 3.15″ (80 mm) of rain in 1 hour. Both are all time records for the highest 1-hour rainfall totals in these locations. Central Park received a 24-hour total of 7.19 inches (183 mm) of rain by early 02 September, making it the fifth-largest daily rainfall in the past 150 years, according to New York City officials.
The governors of New York and New Jersey both declared a state of emergency and have formally requested a Federal Emergency Declaration from the President.
In the request for a Federal Emergency Declaration, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said “the rains accompanying this storm have overwhelmed counties along the Delaware River and inland waterways. Ida’s rainfall impacts were exacerbated by the flooding and saturation resulting from Tropical Storm Henri, which impacted the State with heavy rains on August 22, 2021.
“In parts of central New Jersey, it is estimated that more than a month’s worth of rain, as much as 8 to 10 inches, fell in mere hours. As a result numerous counties experienced flash flooding that has overwhelmed roadways, homes, vehicles, businesses, public facilities and other infrastructure. Moreover, emergency responders across the State have ben required to perform dozens of water rescues of imperilled New Jerseyans caught in flash flooding.”
At the storm’s height, roughly 93,000 customers were without power in New Jersey. One person died in a vehicle in flood waters in Passaic and another in Milford Borough. Four people died in Elizabeth, New Jersey, after an apartment complex flooded. Around 600 people were evacuated. Residents of around 500 homes in Trenton were urged to evacuate due to the threat of flooding from the Delaware River.
The Governor visited hard hit areas of the state on 02 September, including Passaic, Hillsborough and Mullica Hill where a tornado caused severe damage.
In a statement the governor said officials had confirmed 23 storm-related deaths. He said many of those who died were people who “got caught in their vehicles by flooding and were overtaken by the water.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul requested a Federal Emergency Declaration for 14 downstate counties following the widespread damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The declaration was requested for the following counties: Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
“New York City and the downstate region were devastated by record-shattering rainfall that caused dangerous flash flooding, destroying buildings and infrastructure and leaving individuals stranded,” Governor Hochul said. “We are still in the process of uncovering the true depth of the destruction that was done by this historic weather event.”
State Fire, State Police and Department of Environmental Conservation participated in approximately 100 rescues in Westchester and Rockland counties. Westchester County officials reported three deaths.
Some of the hardest hit areas were in New York City, where 13 people lost their lives. Many of those who died were in their homes, mostly basement apartments. New York Police Department (NYPD) said 11 people died in 6 incidents in Queens, and 2 people died in separate incidents in Brooklyn. Police also reported 25 families were evacuated and 496 abandoned vehicles were removed from flooded roads.
Hundreds of people were rescued from flooded roads, homes and trains. NYPD reported high water rescues in Staten Island, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Over 800 passengers were rescued from stranded trains.
New York’s Fire Department also conducted hundreds of rescues overnight. Via Social Media, the department said, ” We had everything from people trapped on their roofs, people trapped in completely submerged cars, trapped in basements with the doors stuck and water rapidly rising, and with heavy currents of water everywhere, our units did a tremendous job. Members walked blocks in chest deep water to extricate people from basements and vehicles. It seemed like every job we got, we were delayed because people were flagging us down who needed our help.”
Officials in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, confirmed 3 fatalities after severe flooding in the county. The Schuylkill River at Norristown and Perkiomen Creek at Graterford reached record levels early 02 September
The swollen Schuylkill River also caused flooding in Philadelphia. The river reached 16.35 feet (4.983 metres) in the city on 02 September, well above Major Flood Stage of 15.5 feet (4.72 metres).
Connecticut and Maryland
Severe flooding was also reported in Connecticut, in particular in Fairfield where police reported vehicles were submerged or stranded. A Connecticut state police sergeant died after his vehicle was swept away in Woodbury.
Stamford in Fairfield County recorded 8.10 inches (206 mm) of rain during the storm, while Clinton in Middlesex County saw 8.37 inches (213 mm). Governor Ned Lamont declared a state of emergency for Connecticut on 02 September 2021.
In Maryland, floodwaters inundated an apartment block in Rockville early 01 September with one fatality reported.
Severe flooding was reported in Wilmington, Delaware, on 02 September. The Wilmington Fire Department said it was “on scene for over 10 hours and utilizing dozens of mutual aid agencies, effectively rescued over 200 residents from flooded homes and vehicles. Thankfully, there were no fatalities and no injuries to our first responders.”
“Obviously this terrible storm has caused extensive flooding damage throughout the City,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki. “The Brandywine River rose to levels not seen in a hundred years, and our first responders did a marvellous job today of ensuring that everybody was safe and protected. Our Police, Fire, and Emergency Management personnel, working alongside County and State partners and with teams from Public Works, Licenses and Inspections, and Parks and Recreation, all responded heroically to assist those in need throughout a long and difficult day. We all owe them all a debt of gratitude.”
The Brandywine Creek at Wilmington reached 23.14 feet (7.053 metres) on 02 September 2021, well above Major Flood Stage of 19 feet (5.8 metres).