NYC Region Reels on Damage, Deaths, Transit Tie-Ups: Ida Update

The remnants of Hurricane Ida ripped through New York, New Jersey and across the Northeast early Thursday, killing at least nine people and triggering tornadoes, thunderstorms and torrential rain that inundated streets and paralyzed transport services.

The waters swamped highways, airport terminals, baseball stadiums and subway stations. Eight people died in Brooklyn and Queens, a police spokesman said. A ninth was killed in Passaic, New Jersey, according to local news outlets. Tornadoes hit Maryland and New Jersey.

The deluge came after Ida devastated Southern Louisiana, leaving more than 1 million homes and businesses without power in a blackout that has no end in sight. It’s the latest in a string of extreme weather events around the world this year as climate change takes hold. Massive wildfires are raging in California, including one threatening Lake Tahoe. Other blazes have blackened huge swaths of Greece, Italy and Siberia. July was the hottest month on record.

Key Developments

  • Subways, buses and trains largely suspended in New York City
  • Bridges and tunnels open but many roads flooded
  • National Weather Service issued its first ever flash flood emergency for New York City
NYC Region Reels on Damage, Deaths, Transit Tie-Ups: Ida Update

Hochul and De Blasio to Hold Joint Briefing: 9:31 a.m.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said they plan to hold a joint weather briefing at 10:30 a.m. in Queens to provide an update on New York City’s storm recovery efforts.

The governor of New York and the mayor of New York City appearing side-by-side to address an emergency marks a notable change from Hochul’s predecessor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned over sexual harassment allegations last month. Cuomo and de Blasio famously sparred publicly throughout their tenure as New York leaders and rarely appeared together to make decisions in concert.

Subways Should Be Running For Evening Commute: 9:20 a.m.

New York City’s subway system should be operating near normal for the evening commute, but the Metro North rail is “really out of business today,” Metropolitan Transit Authority Acting Chair Janno Lieber said.

Mudslides and downed trees have made a mess of the tracks, Lieber said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We’re putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, and bravo to the crews who worked through the night,” he said.

It’s the second time in two months the subway system has been pummeled by extreme weather events, despite billions of dollars plunged into fortifying the system after Superstorm Sandy.

After Sandy, the MTA invested in coastal resiliency and rebuilt underwater tunnels, which performed well overnight, Lieber said. The issue now is the rest of the stations, sewer systems, streets and other infrastructure that weren’t fortified because they weren’t in flood areas.

“In the era of climate change with extreme weather events, even the higher elevations are experiencing flash flooding,” Lieber said. “The big problem is drainage and sewer infrastructure gets overwhelmed.”

Ida Teamed Up With Jet Steam to Unleash Epic Rain: 8:50 a.m.

The extreme rain in New York and New Jersey came because of a chance encounter that the remnants of Hurricane Ida had with the jet stream. The two came together at the hottest time of the day when the air was already quite unstable, producing enormous rainfall, said Zack Taylor, a meteorologists with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

Hourly rainfall rates were so heavy across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York there is only a 1% chance of them happening in any given years. In some place the deluge was so severe that it only has a 0.5% of being repeated, he said.

“It was the perfect set up for extreme rainfall, and unfortunately it happened over one of the most populous corridors of the United State,” Taylor said.

In Central Park 3.15 inches of rain fell in an hour setting a new record, Taylor said. A wide spread area from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New England, including New York, got between 6 to 8 inches in a few hours.

NYC Region Reels on Damage, Deaths, Transit Tie-Ups: Ida Update

81,000 homes and businesses without power in N.Y. and N.J.: 8:40 a.m.

The storm left more 81,000 homes and businesses in the New York City region and New Jersey without power Thursday morning.

Most of the New York outages are Westchester County north of the city, according to a ConEd spokesman. Repairs to bring electricity back online were hindered by flooded roads. The 63,000 in New Jersey are primarily in the Northwest region of the state, according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outages.

“It’s very dangerous. Our trucks can’t move on these roads that are blocked by floodwaters,” said Jamie McShane of ConEd. “There were cars everywhere that have been abandoned, so it’s really hard to get around.”

Floodwaters in Westchester could take hours or even days to recede, McShane said. “There’s a lot of tree damage in Westchester County, but they’re not trees on the ground which is good news,” he said.

Hoboken Is Also Deluged, Turnpike Lane Closed: 8:30 a.m.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, a state of emergency was in place, with non-essential travel restricted. Social media showed vehicles stranded in flooded intersections. In Lambertville, on the Delaware River, downtown was under water and a major flood warning remained in effect until 3 p.m. East Coast time.

The New Jersey Turnpike, a link in the East Coast’s major north-south trucking highway, said one northbound lane near Interchange 12 in Carteret remains closed due to flooding, with all southbound lanes reopened.

“Many roads remain flooded this morning,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a tweet. “It is not safe to drive.”

NYC Death Count Rises to Eight: 8:22 a.m.

The New York City Police Department said there were at least eight deaths in Brooklyn and Queens due to the flooding and other extreme weather on Wednesday between 10 p.m. and midnight. Officers responded to 911 calls of flooding across the city and found at least six of the people dead inside their homes, including a 2-year-old boy and 86-year-old woman in Queens. Two other women from Queens, ages 48 and 45, were pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital.

A ninth person was killed in Passaic, New Jersey, according to local news outlets.

N.Y. Governor Postpones Signing Eviction Bill to Focus on Floods: 7:52 a.m.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul cancelled a bill signing event Thursday morning for an eviction moratorium extension so she could focus on the floods. A spokesperson for Hochul’s administration said she still plans to sign the bill, which extends an eviction freeze through January 15, but the timing is yet to be determined.

Travel Advisory in Effect on NYC Streets: 7:30 a.m. 

A travel advisory remains in effect in New York City, which asked all non-emergency vehicles to stay off the city’s streets and highways while clean up continues. The city had lifted a ban on non-essential travel at 5 a.m.

Biden to Speak About Federal Response to Ida: 7:26 a.m. 

President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks from the White House at 11:30 a.m. on the federal response to Hurricane Ida, which cut off power for millions and prompted gasoline shortages affecting millions of people across Louisiana. Biden plans to visit Louisiana on Friday to survey storm damage and assess the federal response.

MTA Service ‘Largely Suspended’ in NYC: 6:56 a.m.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority service on subway, bus and commuter rails is “largely suspended due to heavy rainfall and flooding across the region,” according to the MTA’s website.

The C, E, B, Z, S and Number 3 lines were among those suspended as of 7:30 a.m. Other lines had significant delays. 

NYC Region Reels on Damage, Deaths, Transit Tie-Ups: Ida Update

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