NEW YORK - The death toll from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which caused devastating flooding in New York City and New Jersey, rose to a stunning total of more than 46 people Thursday, after floodwaters drowned people in their homes and cars.
In a region that had been warned about potentially deadly flash flooding but hadn't braced for such a blow from the no-longer-hurricane, the storm killed at least 45 people from Maryland to Connecticut on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
At least 25 people died in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said. At least 13 people were killed in New York City, police said, 11 of them in flooded basement apartments, which often serve as relatively affordable homes in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets. Suburban Westchester County reported three deaths.
In comparison, the storm which caused extensive damage in Louisiana where it first made landfall claimed two lives there.
The latest confirmed victims were found dead in a flooded apartment in Elizabeth Thursday morning. The city's mayor lowered the death count to four, correcting earlier reports. The causes of deaths were not immediately available.
In Passaic, a 70-year-old man died after his car became submerged in floodwaters. Two other passengers were rescued.
In New York City, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the ninth death from the storm during a briefing with local and state leaders. The victim was found in the back seat of a vehicle on the Grand Central Parkway following an accident.
Just before midnight, the NYPD responded to a call about flooding at 55-35 84 Street in Maspeth, Queens. They discovered an 86-year-old woman dead.
At about 10 p.m., police found a 50-year-old man, a 48-year-old woman and a two-year-old child dead inside a house at 44-60 64th Street in Maspeth. Their identities were not yet released.
At about 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, the NYPD responded to flooding at 61-20 Grand Central Parkway in Rego Park, Queens where they found 48-year-old Darlene Hsu unconscious. She was taken to Forest Hills Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
At about 11:15 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of a flooding condition at 90-11 183 Street in Jamaica, Queens. Cops discovered a 43-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man unconscious. The woman was rushed to Queens General Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The pair have been identified as Phamatee and Khrishah Ramskriet, both of Queens.
At about 11:30 p.m., police discovered a 66-year-old man dead within a flooded house at 491 Ridgewood Avenue in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The man has been identified as Roberto Bravo, of Brooklyn.
At 11:42 p.m., police found two women and a man unconscious and unresponsive inside of a flooded basement at 153-10 Peck Avenue near East Flushing. All were pronounced dead at the scene. Their identities have not yet been released, pending family notification.
At around 11:59 p.m., authorities say they found 86-year-old Yue Lian Chen unconscious and unresponsive inside her flooded apartment on 84th Street in Elmhurst.
In New York City, Deborah Torres said water rapidly filled her first-floor Queens apartment to her knees as her landlord frantically urged her neighbors below — who included a baby — to get out, she said. But the water was rushing in so strongly that she surmised they weren't able to open the door. The three residents died.
"I have no words," she said. "How can something like this happen?"
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the storm's strength took them by surprise.
"We did not know that between 8:50 and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls level of water to the streets of New York," said Hochul, a Democrat who became governor last week after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned.
De Blasio, also a Democrat, said he'd gotten a forecast Wednesday of 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) of rain over the course of the day. The city's Central Park ended up getting 3.15 inches just in one hour, surpassing the previous recorded high of 1.94 inches (5 cm) in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on Aug. 21.
The storm ultimately dumped over 9 inches (23 cm) of rain in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and nearly as much on New York City’s Staten Island.
Back in New Jersey, a search and rescue effort was expected to be launched later in the day for two people who may have been swept away into the Passaic River, said Passaic Mayor Hector C. Lora.
Early Thursday morning, the NYPD tweeted photos of the rescue of a disabled man and his dog stranded in three feet of water inside a basement.
New York City and New Jersey were slammed with torrential rains and extreme flooding that began Wednesday afternoon and continued through Thursday morning.
"We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said while declaring a state of emergency in New York City late Wednesday.
With the Associated Press