Dear Commons Community,
The death toll from flooding after the remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled cities in the East rose to 46 yesterday after New Jersey announced at least 23 people had died there.
Governor Phil Murphy said the majority of the deaths were people caught in their vehicles by flooding and were “overtaken by the water.” Officials said many people were still unaccounted for. As reported by NBC News.
“We’re going to withhold a complete rundown of the blessed losses of life. They are spread across a handful of counties, largely concentrated — not entirely — but largely concentrated in central Jersey and a few in the north,” Murphy said in an evening update.
Dozens have died (see video above) in six Eastern states — Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia — after the storm brought unprecedented rainfall to some areas.
The death toll included a state trooper in Connecticut who was swept away as he responded to a missing person’s call.
Water rescues were continuing in many areas, and in New York City a new task force was going to homes to make sure there weren’t more victims in basements.
In the Philadelphia area, some streets were swamped, delaying the city’s rail and bus services, closing city buildings and prompting leaders to urge people to work from home.
Rescuers navigated boats through flooded streets in and around Philadelphia, northern Delaware and parts of New York state, ferrying people from flooded homes.
In Pennsylvania alone, thousands of rescues are believed to have happened so far, state emergency management Director Randy Padfield said.
“There’s a lot of damage, and I made clear to the governors that my team at … FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that is needed,” President Joe Biden said.
In New York City, first responders rescued commuters from halted subway trains Wednesday night, while other travelers were stranded overnight in subway stations, some sleeping on benches with service suspended and no way to get to their destinations.
NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said that 835 people were rescued from the subway system.
Beverly Pryce, a nurse from Queens, was among those who stayed overnight in a Manhattan subway station, having left her home Wednesday night to go to work, only for the flooding to bring everything to a standstill.
“(I’ve seen) nothing like this,” she told CNN on Thursday morning. “I didn’t expect it to be this severe; I would not have left my house.”
“I can’t think any more about how I feel at this point because of the chaos outside, my neighbors, there’s loss of life,” she told CNN. “I’ve lost everything in here and mostly the lives out there… we need some support … this is too much for us. There is no end in sight.”
Harrison said there were 18 water rescues at the US Open tennis site in Flushing.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told CNN that the state is used to disasters but this would be a massive cleanup.
“I would urge people to stay home, check on your neighbors, make sure they’re OK,” she said.
Murphy called the flooding that impacted New Jersey “historic by any measure.”
“It’s never flooded like this, it’s never rained like this,” Murphy said, adding that state officials will do an investigation into the storm and their response.
Murphy said storms like Ida reflect climate change realities and the need to address it. “These storms are coming more frequently and with more intensity, so there’s no denying it,” Murphy said.
Emergencies were declared for New York state, New York City and New Jersey. In New York City alone, firefighters rescued hundreds of people from vehicles on flooded roads and hundreds more from the subway system, the city fire department said Thursday.
Of the 46 killed, 16 died in New York state. Thirteen of those were in New York City, and three people died in Westchester County after getting out of their vehicles in flash flooding, officials said.
Of those who died in New York City, at least eight died in flooded basements of homes in Queens, city police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
The Connecticut state trooper who died was a sergeant who had been with the agency for 26 years. He was carried away by the rising waters when he arrived at 4 a.m. to investigate a report of someone missing in Woodbury due to the flooding.
Six of the 23 New Jersey deaths were announced by local officials.
In Elizabeth, four residents drowned in an apartment complex along the Elizabeth River, Mayor Chris Bollwage said.
In Passaic, a man in his 70s was found dead after floodwaters overtook the vehicle he was in, Mayor Hector Lora told CNN’s Don Lemon.
A man in his 50s was swept away by floodwaters in Maplewood and later found dead in Millburn, a few miles to the west, according to Maplewood police.
In Pennsylvania, three storm-related deaths were reported in Montgomery County, said Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the county board of commissioners.
And Bridgeport manager Keith S. Truman told CNN that one person has died in the town due to floodwaters.
In Maryland’s Montgomery County, a 19-year-old was found dead Wednesday in a flooded apartment complex, and his death is preliminarily attributed to the storm, police said.
In Virginia, searchers found one body in the Guesses Fork area of Hurley, according to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office.