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Ida dumps deadly flooding rain on Northeast

More than 40 deaths reported

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Updated Sep. 2, 2021, 10 p.m. ET.

The governors of New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency late Wednesday as record-breaking rainfall from Ida’s remnants led to major flooding. As of Thursday evening, more than 40 people had reportedly died as a result of the storm.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the flooding and weather on Wednesday night as a “historic weather event,” according to a Reuters report. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood emergency in New York City, its first ever for The Big Apple. Such a warning is issued for exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon.

The NWS rain gauge in Central Park measured 7.13 inches Wednesday, a record for Sep. 1, and almost twice the average rain total for the entire month of September. Also, nearly half of Wednesday’s rain accumulated in just one hour.

At least one person was killed as the flooding inundated the New Jersey city of Passaic, Mayor Hector Lora told CNN.

NBC New York reported that one more person had died in New Jersey and seven had died in New York City, including a 2-year-old boy. Local media reported that people had been trapped in their basements as the storm sent water surging through the city.

Lora said the body of a man in his 70s was retrieved from floodwaters. The vehicle the man was in was swept away by the water and firefighters were swept under the vehicle, preventing them from reaching him, CNN reported.

Nearly all New York City subway lines were suspended late Wednesday due to flooding. All nonemergency vehicles have been banned from New York City’s streets until 5 a.m. Thursday due to the weather, city authorities said on Twitter.

At least five flash flood emergencies were issued Wednesday evening by the NWS, stretching from west of Philadelphia through northern New Jersey.

According to the NWS, New York City received more than 3 inches of rain in just one hour Wednesday evening. Some parts of the Northeast have seen storm totals of at least 10 inches, based on radar estimates.

Earlier in the night, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also declared a state of emergency. He wrote on Twitter that 81,740 power outages were reported late on Wednesday. As of 7:30 a.m. ET Thursday, these are the numbers of customers without electricity, according to

• Pennsylvania: 99,755.
• New Jersey: 61,511.
• New York: 42,911.

All New Jersey Transit rail services apart from the Atlantic City Rail Line were suspended due to the extreme weather, the service said on its website.

Ida’s remnants ravaged the Northeast a few days after it slammed the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday.

New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport said on Twitter it was experiencing “severe flooding.” It said it resumed “limited flight operations” close to midnight after all flight activity had been suspended late.

Social media images showed water gushing over New York City’s subway platforms and trains. Subway service was “extremely limited” due to the flooding, the Metropolitan Transit Authority said.

First responders evacuated people from the subway system, the acting chair and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Janno Lieber, said in a statement. De Blasio urged people to stay home.

“Please stay off the streets tonight and let our first responders and emergency services get their work done. If you’re thinking of going outside, don’t,” de Blasio tweeted. “Stay off the subways. Stay off the roads. Don’t drive into these heavy waters. Stay inside.”

Ida’s remnants also spawned damaging tornadoes in parts of Maryland and New Jersey.

While most of the rain has exited the Northeast, street flooding will likely linger Thursday. The NWS still has river flood warnings posted from Washington to Boston.

Major lanes of concern

Interstate 95 from Washington to Boston
Interstate 76 from Philadelphia to Willow Hill, Pennsylvania
Interstate 81 from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Hazelton, Pennsylvania
Interstate 90 from Boston to Springfield, Massachusetts

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.