NEW YORK — The death toll from the remnants of Hurricane Ida’s stunning blast through the Northeast rose to eight on Thursday after the city and parts of New Jersey became overwhelmed in water.
At least seven people in New York City died in the flooding, police said. Hector Lora, the mayor of Passaic, New Jersey, said one person died there in a submerged car.
Flooding in Queens and Brooklyn turned major streets into rivers and swamped basement and first floor apartments as the heavy rain pounded the city for multiple hours Wednesday night. The National Weather Service office in New York declared a flash flooding emergency, a rare warning for situations where the flooding is “leading to a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage.”
The city’s emergency management department warned all residents to avoid travel overnight as more than 3 inches of rain fell in Central Park in one hour. Videos shared on social media showed the Brooklyn Queens Expressway impassible, cars stuck in streets in Elmhurst, Queens, and water racing into subway stations in Manhattan.
New York police responded to numerous 911 calls, but the department did not have an initial tally of how many water rescues it was involved in as of Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service recorded 3.15 inches of rain in New York’s Central Park in one hour late Wednesday, far surpassing the record 1.94 inches that fell in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri less than two weeks ago.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Wednesday night as the National Weather Service also warned water-logged New Jersey was at risk for tornadoes.
New York’s FDR Drive, a major artery on the east side of Manhattan, and the Bronx River Parkway were under water late Wednesday evening.
NYC subway status in flux for morning rush
Subway stations and tracks became so flooded that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended all service. Videos posted online showed subway riders standing on seats in cars filled with water.
Although the rain had ended overnight, 21 areas of the New York City subway system still had some flooding as of 6 a.m., acting MTA Chairman Janno Lieber told NY1. Pumping was continuing, and subway service should increase, but Lieber declined to predict when the system would return to full service.
“Service is largely suspended due to heavy rainfall and flooding across the region,” MTA said in a 5 a.m. notice on its website. “Please avoid all unnecessary travel at this time.”
Here’s what you need to know about flash floods: ‘They can occur in all 50 states’
New Jersey residents urged to stay off roads
“Stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Twitter amid dozens of videos going viral on social media, showing streets with rapid-moving water. Murphy declared a state of emergency in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
Jarring footage showed water inside Newark Liberty International Airport and water rushing into baggage facilities. The airport announced on Twitter that it had suspended all flight activity as of 10:30 p.m. Limited flights began a couple hours later.
New Jersey Transit said almost all train service suspended.
“All light rail & buses are subject to suspensions, detours, and delays due to widespread weather issues,” the agency tweeted.
Contributing: Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY; The Associated Press