NEW YORK CITY — At least eight people were killed, including a 2-year-old boy, across New York City and New Jersey when Ida brought record-breaking rainfall and historic flooding to the region Wednesday night.
New York’s FDR Drive, a major artery on the east side of Manhattan, and the Bronx River Parkway were under water by late Wednesday evening. 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.
Other videos showed vehicles submerged up to their windows on major roadways in and around the city and garbage bobbing down the streets.
“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.
Gov. Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency for New York state.
The National Weather Service office in New York declared its first-ever set of flash flood emergencies in the region Wednesday night, an alert level that is reserved for “exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon.”
New York City put in place a travel ban until 5 a.m. ET Thursday for all non-emergency vehicles.
The National Weather Service recorded 3.15 inches of rain in New York’s Central Park in one hour Wednesday night, far surpassing the 1.94 inches that fell in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on the night of Aug. 21, believed at the time to be the most ever recorded in the park.
In New York City, police said officers responded around 10 p.m. to a 911 call for flooding in the basement apartment of a building in Queens. They found three family members unconscious and unresponsive, including a 50-year-old man, a 48-year-old woman and a 2-year-old boy, officials said. They were all pronounced dead at the scene.
Three other people died after flooding in basement apartments in Queens. A 48-year-old woman found unconscious and unresponsive by police was taken by EMS to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. In another apartment, police found a 43-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man, believed to be a mother and her adult son, unresponsive. The man was pronounced dead at the scene while the woman was pronounced dead after being taken to an area hospital.
In Brooklyn, police found a 66-year-old man unconscious in a basement apartment and he was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS.
One death so far has been confirmed in New Jersey. Passaic Mayor Hector C. Lora said in an interview with CNN that a 70-year-old man was killed after being swept under a car by floodwaters Wednesday night.
According to the mayor, the car had driven beyond a barricade set up by authorities and became stranded.
Three people were in the vehicle and emergency responders were able to rescue two of them, however, the older man was unable to be saved, Lora said.
Earlier Wednesday, the storm blew through the mid-Atlantic states with at least two tornadoes, heavy winds and drenching rains that collapsed the roof of a U.S. Postal Service building in New Jersey and threatened to overrun a dam in Pennsylvania.
Social media posts showed homes reduced to rubble in a southern New Jersey county just outside Philadelphia, not far from where the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado Wednesday evening. Authorities did not have any immediate information on injuries.
The roof collapsed at the Postal Service building in Kearny, New Jersey, with people inside, police Sgt. Chris Levchak said. Rescue crews were on scene into the night, with no immediate word on the number of people or severity of injuries.
Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties, urging people to stay off the flooded roads. Meteorologists warned that rivers likely won’t crest for a few more days, raising the possibility of more widespread flooding.
Soaking rains prompted the evacuations of thousands of people after water reached dangerous levels at a dam near Johnstown, a Pennsylvania town nicknamed Flood City. An official said later Wednesday that the water levels near the dam were receding.
Utilities reported hundreds of thousands of customers without power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In Rockville, Maryland, water had almost reached the ceilings of basement units Wednesday when crews arrived at an apartment complex. A 19-year-old was found dead, another person was missing and about 200 people from 60 apartments near Rock Creek were displaced, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said Wednesday.
A tornado was believed to have touched down along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
“In many years, I have not seen circumstances like this,” Goldstein said.
The National Weather Service had predicted flooding from what remained of Hurricane Ida, saying steep terrain and even city streets were particularly vulnerable to a band of severe weather that extended to Massachusetts, where tornado warnings were issued early Thursday.
Tropical Storm Henri hit the region a little more than a week ago, causing flooding and leaving the region saturated and more vulnerable to this week’s torrents.
Tropical Storm Larry was strengthening and moving quickly westward after forming off the coast of Africa earlier Wednesday. Forecasters predicted it would rapidly intensify in a manner similar to Ida, becoming a major hurricane with top wind speeds of 120 mph (193 kph) by Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.