The waterspout caused by the last spasms of the tropical storm one way, on Wednesday night, left at least nine dead in New York and New Jersey, according to US media, and caused floods and tornadoes of such magnitude that the governors of these two East Coast states and municipal authorities of New York declared a state of emergency as late as Wednesday night. The floods in the megalopolis resulted in the removal of passengers from the metro network and the almost complete suspension of regional and inter-regional rail service. New York authorities also banned all vehicles except emergency vehicles.
The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, justified the measure, unheard of until now due to a meteorological phenomenon, defining the torrential rains as a “historic climatic event”. The state of emergency affects 20 million people in this metropolis and neighboring counties alone. According to the US National Weather Service, this is the first time such a measure has been declared because of repeated flooding in the country’s cultural capital, despite the fact that, in October 2012, the hurricane Sandy also got down on New York.
Do Blasio asked the population not to leave the house. “Please don’t go out on the street tonight and let the emergency services do their job. If you’re thinking about leaving, don’t do it. Don’t get off the subway. Don’t go out into the street. Do not drive through such violent waters. Stay inside the places,” he said on Twitter.
Many city residents registered the seriousness of the floods in unusual photos and videos posted on social networks. In them, vehicles float along the avenues of New York, especially in the districts of Brooklyn and Queens, people walk with water at their knees, and authentic waterfalls on the roofs of several subway stations, while trains continue to circulate, although no longer passengers, who had been removed. Other people have reported on social media that in some homes water seeped through windows and flooded basements.
The floods hit a wide area that stretches from western Pennsylvania to northern New Jersey. In the city of Passaic, in the latter state, at least one person died from the floods, Mayor Héctor Lora told CNN. NBC reported that another person had died in New Jersey and seven, including a two-year-old, in New York City, several of them being stranded in their basements flooded by the torrential rains on Wednesday night.
The mayor of Passaic said that the body of the 70-year-old man who died there had already been recovered from the car he was driving in and that it was dragged by the water. The firefighters’ vehicle trying to do the rescue was also dragged by the current, so it was very difficult to reach the corpse, reported CNN.
Tornadoes generated by Storm Ida also razed parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as shown in images posted on social networks. At least nine homes were destroyed in Mullica Hill (New Jersey), according to Philadelphia’s NBC10 channel. New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport reported via Twitter around midnight that operations would resume “on a limited basis” after the suspension of flights in the late afternoon. In Philadelphia, the Weather Service issued a tornado warning.
Hurricane Ida, later downgraded to a tropical storm, had already claimed the lives of seven people on the East Coast —not counting the nine victims on Wednesday—, leaving heavy rains and severe flooding in its wake. The system should advance this Thursday towards New England. US President Joe Biden will travel on Friday to Louisiana, where the Ida touched land on Sunday in winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour, destroying numerous buildings and leaving a million homes without electricity. Ida was one of the most powerful hurricanes in recent years, and the fifth most severe in the US on record.
Support news production like this. Subscribe to EL PAÍS for 30 days for 1 US$
sign up on here to receive the daily newsletter of EL PAÍS Brasil: reports, analyses, exclusive interviews and the main information of the day in your e-mail, from Monday to Friday. sign up also to receive our weekly newsletter on Saturdays, with highlights of coverage for the week.