In the aftermath of a ferocious storm that killed more than two dozen people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, national and local leaders acknowledged Thursday that extreme weather events posed an urgent and ongoing threat.
The storm killed at least 28 people and left more than 150,000 homes without power. States of emergency remained in effect across the region by midday Thursday, as officials sought to get a handle on the damage.
Speaking from the White House, President Biden said that the damage indicated that “extreme storms and the climate crisis are here,” constituting what he called “one of the great challenges of our time.”
At a news conference in Queens on Thursday morning, Gov. Kathy C. Hochul of New York said that she had received a call from President Biden, who she said “offered any assistance” as the state assessed the damage from Ida, a storm that she said represented a new normal.
“We need to foresee these in advance, and be prepared,” she said.
The deluge of rain on Wednesday — more than half a foot fell in just a few hours — turned streets and subway platforms into rivers. Emergency responders in boats rescued people from the rooftops of cars. Hundreds of people were evacuated from trains and subways. A tornado in southern New Jersey leveled a stretch of houses. Some rivers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were still rising.
The rain broke records set just 11 days before by Tropical Storm Henri, underscoring warnings from climate scientists of a new normal on a warmed planet: Hotter air holds more water and allows storms to gather strength more quickly and grow ever larger.
New York City’s subway lines remained at least partly suspended as of midday on Thursday, as was commuter rail service across the region. Airports were open but hundreds of flights had been canceled.
In New York City, the dead ranged in age from a 2-year-old boy to an 86-year-old woman, the police said. Some drowned in basement apartments in Queens, where a system of makeshift and mostly illegally converted living spaces has sprung up.
Four people were found dead in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, N.J., city officials said Thursday. Two people were killed in Hillsborough, N.J. after they became trapped in their vehicles, a spokeswoman for the town said. Another death occurred in Passaic, N.J., where the Passaic River breached its banks and fish flopped in the streets.
The 3.15 inches of rain that fell in Central Park in one hour on Wednesday eclipsed the record-breaking one-hour rainfall of 1.94 inches on Aug. 21. The National Weather Service, struggling to depict the level of danger, declared a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time.
In Bergen County, New Jersey’s most populous county, County Executive James Tedesco, a former firefighter, said on Thursday: “We have not complete devastation but close to it. This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it.”
Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Jonah E. Bromwich, Maria Cramer, Isabella Grullón Paz, Matthew Haag, Jesus Jiménez, Michael Levenson, Eduardo Medina, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Ali Watkins and Ashley Wong.
On Thursday morning, people in the Mid-Atlantic states awoke to a trail of destruction left behind by Ida, some of it still ongoing. Tornadoes had touched down in Maryland and in the Philadelphia suburbs, while rain-swollen rivers were still rising.
Officials in Pennsylvania said emergency responders had conducted thousands of water rescues across the state over the past 24 hours, pulling people out of apartment buildings and cars as towns and roads were inundated by floodwaters.
In the Philadelphia area, where tens of thousands of people were without power, a portion of a major highway running through the center of the city was submerged. The Schuylkill River had reached “major” flood stage overnight, covering nearby roadways, rendering them impassable and leaving cars across the city nearly completely under water.
“We are still doing water rescues across the city; we’ve done that for the past 15 hours now continually,” said Adam Thiel, the Philadelphia fire commissioner, in a news briefing. “We know that the flooding reached levels that have not been seen in 100 years,” he added. “And potentially this will be a record-breaking flood.”
The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, emphasized that while the storm may have been record-breaking, it was part of a pattern of disaster caused by climate change.
“Extreme weather events like Ida are not isolated incidents,” the mayor said. “They are another indication of the worsening climate crisis.”
Above the flooded interstate running through downtown, where people took photographs of the muddy water lapping road signs, several echoed the mayor’s comments.
“Al Gore gave us a wake-up call 20 years ago, and no one paid attention,” said Frank Feingold, 76, a retired probation officer.
In Manayunk, a neighborhood on the Schuylkill, brown floodwaters swirled through the open doors and windows of restaurants along Main Street, including Pizzeria L’Angolo. Its owner, Guido Abbate, stood outside and took stock.
He had put sandbags outside the business around midnight on Wednesday, he said, but the defenses had been rapidly overwhelmed by the floodwaters. He and his family had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in ovens, refrigerators and other equipment, he said, and he was unable to save any of them.
“It was coming so hard that the basement filled up, and it was coming through the heating and air-conditioning vents,” he said. “It came halfway up the windows.”
Some of the hardest-hit areas were in the Philadelphia suburbs. In Montgomery County, officials said at a news briefing that “the size and scope of the damage from this storm has been vast,” with record flooding prompting hundreds of water rescues, and a possible tornado. Three people had died in the county, officials said, two apparently from drowning.
“After last night’s rain, the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek are continuing to rise,” said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “I want to emphasize that they have not yet crested. Both waterways have already surpassed all time records.”
In Bucks County late Wednesday night, Pennsylvania state troopers tried to reach a car that had driven into floodwaters but had to postpone their efforts when conditions grew too severe. When they returned early Thursday morning, the driver, a 65-year-old man, was found dead in the car.
In Bucks County, where the Delaware River was still rising, officials said there was not a municipality that was unaffected by the storm. Roads were impassable and bridges were out across the county; Gene DiGirolamo, a county commissioner, said some areas got 10 inches of rain. “I don’t think it would be over the top to say this storm has been catastrophic,” Mr. DiGirolamo said.
The National Weather Service reported at least four tornadoes had touched down in Maryland on Thursday night and one near Mullica Hill, N.J.
Mitchelle Stephenson, a spokeswoman for Annapolis, said a tornado that landed near the city had left about 2,500 residents without power, and that the city had received reports of fallen trees. The fire and police departments had closed streets to assess the damage, according to Ms. Stephenson, who said no injuries had been reported.
Forecasters were concerned about flooded rivers, and Wilmore Dam in central Pennsylvania was “overtopping” at one point with approximately three feet of rainwater, said John Banghoss, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in State College, Pa. About 42,000 residents were ordered to move to higher ground.
Reporting was contributed by Jon Hurdle, Isabella Grullón Paz, Eduardo Medina, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Ashley Wong and Tiffany May.
The torrents from Ida’s waters cascaded through New York City basement doors and windows, turning everyday spaces into death traps.
In Woodside, Queens, Deborah Torres said she heard the desperate pleas from the basement of three members of a family, including a toddler.
As the water rushed into the building about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Ms. Torres said she heard the family frantically call out to another neighbor, Choi Sledge. Ms. Sledge pleaded with the family to flee.
Within moments, however, the cascade of water was too powerful, and it also kept anyone from trying to get downstairs to help.
“It was impossible,” said Ms. Torres, who lives on the first floor. “It was like a pool.”
The family did not survive.
Darlene Lee, 48, was in a basement apartment that belonged to the super of a condominium in Central Parkway, Queens. Flooding burst through a glass sliding door in the apartment, and quickly filled it with about six feet of murky water.
The water pinned Ms. Lee between the apartment’s steel front door and the door frame, leaving her wedged and unable to escape.
Patricia Fuentes, the property manager, had just gotten off work when she heard Ms. Lee screaming for help and found her stuck. Ms. Fuentes ran to the lobby to call for aid, and Jayson Jordan, the assistant super, and Andy Tapia, a handyman, jumped through the broken glass door to get to Ms. Lee.
But they could not save her. Ms. Lee was pinned and Mr. Tapia tried in vain to keep her above the chin-deep water. Eventually, the men were able to pry her from the door, but it was too late, Mr. Jordan said. Ms. Lee was killed by the storm.
In Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, Ricardo Garcia was awakened by a surge of water that he said exploded through the door of his shared basement apartment at about 10:15 p.m. In moments, it was up to his knees, then his waist, then his chest.
Mr. Garcia, 50, banged on the door next to his, waking another roommate, Oliver De La Cruz, who was shaking on Thursday morning as he looked at the water stains that reached to the ceiling of his ruined room.
“I almost died inside here, I almost died, man,” said Mr. De La Cruz, 22.
Mr. De La Cruz broke down his bedroom door to escape in his boxer shorts. Mr. Garcia said that he and Mr. De La Cruz climbed to the first floor, struggling against the water pouring down the stairs.
Mr. De La Cruz found his upstairs neighbor, Roxanna Florentino, who has lived in the building for 18 years. She said she heard another man, 66-year-old Roberto Bravo, crying out for help from a back bedroom in the basement apartment.
Ms. Florentino said Mr. Bravo was pleading for help in Spanish, and neighbors were trying to reach him. But water was pouring through both the front door and a window. She realized Mr. Bravo’s screaming had stopped.
On Thursday, it was clear that the water had risen so forcefully where Mr. Bravo had been that it tore off the door and broke though the ceiling, leaving dank decay. The Ecuadorian flag hanging on his wall was soaked and muddied, the floor below strewn with debris, along with a water-stained photo of Mr. Bravo in a tuxedo at a formal event.
Ms. Florentino made her first of four 911 calls at 10:15 p.m. Firefighters arrived an hour later. They brought out Mr. Bravo’s body.
She tried to sleep but each time she drifted off, she heard Mr. Bravo’s voice, calling a last time.
“It’s so hard when someone asks for help and you can’t help them,” she said.
At least 28 people were killed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania after the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the region on Wednesday.
Fourteen people are known to have died in New York, including thirteen in New York City, most of whom were found at homes in Queens and Brooklyn and ranged in age from 2 to 86, the police said. Official causes of death will be determined later by the city’s medical examiner, the department said.
Another victim, Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Weissmandl, was killed after being trapped by floodwaters near the Tappan Zee Bridge while driving home to Mt. Kisco, N.Y., from Monsey.
At least 10 people were killed in New Jersey, including four people whose bodies were found in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, across the street from a flooded firehouse, said Kelly Martins, the city’s spokeswoman.
Two people were killed in Hillsborough, N.J., after they became trapped in their vehicles, a spokeswoman for the town said. Two people were also killed in Bridgewater Township, N.J., according to the police.
One man was found dead in Passaic, N.J., after being trapped in a car in rapidly rising floodwaters, Mayor Hector C. Lora said, and a body was found inside a pickup truck in Hunterdon County, N.J., Mayor Henri Schepens said.
Four people also died in Bucks and Montgomery counties, north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania officials said, at least three of them from drowning.
Three of the dead in New York City — a 2-year-old boy, a 48-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man — were found at a home on 64th Street in Woodside, Queens.
There, Choi Sledge, who lives on the third floor of the house, said she received a frantic call from a woman who lives in the basement apartment, whom she identified as Mingma Sherpa, around 9:30 p.m.
“She said, ‘The water is coming in right now,’ and I say, ‘Get out!’ Get to the third floor!” Mrs. Sledge recalled.
“The last thing I hear from them is, ‘The water coming in from the window.’ And that was it.” She identified the other two people who died as Ms. Sherpa’s partner, Lobsang Lama, and their son, Ang.
The oldest known victim in New York was an 86-year-old woman in Glendale, Queens.
The police said that 11 of the 12 city residents who died because of the storm had been found in basement apartments, a common and often illegal feature of homes in densely packed neighborhoods in Queens.
Andy Newman, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Jonah E. Bromwich Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Matthew Goldstein, Maria Cramer, Azi Paybarah and Tiffany May contributed reporting.
When rain inundated New York City on Wednesday night, turning streets into rivers and flooding subway stations, officials sounded a desperate warning to keep residents safe: Stay inside.
Still, most of those New Yorkers who lost their lives during the floods were found inside basements, after water poured into homes from the streets and through the windows. On Thursday, when the city’s death toll reached 12, police officials said that 11 of the dead had been found in basements in residential homes.
A severe natural disaster has the potential to make any place unsafe. But the death toll from the storm on Wednesday also highlighted the unique, shadowy world of basement apartments in New York City. Tens of thousands of people, many of them immigrants or low-income residents unable to afford the city’s exorbitant rents, seek shelter in underground dwellings that are often not legal for residence and do not meet safety or building regulations.
It is not clear whether all of the homes where people died during the storm on Wednesday were illegal units. But at a home in Woodside, Queens, where a toddler and his parents were found dead, a certificate of occupancy shows that the basement had not been approved for residential use.
City records also showed two complaints of illegal basements in 2012 for a Queens home where an 86-year-old woman was found dead. The complaints were closed after city building inspectors could not gain access to the basement.
A spokesman for the Department of Buildings on Thursday said the agency was investigating the deaths, but did not have “any records of any previously issued violations at these properties related to illegal conversion issues.”
The deaths highlighted what has been a longstanding issue: while basement apartments have long been a feature of New York City neighborhoods, providing many people a place to live who would not be able to find one otherwise, they have also proven to be dangerous in many cases, susceptible to deadly fires and floods.
It’s not clear exactly how many basement apartments there are in the city, given that many are illegal.
Annetta Seecharran, the executive director of the Chhaya Community Development Corporation, a group that works on housing issues for low-income South Asian and Indo-Caribbean New Yorkers, said that the storm’s toll highlighted the need for public officials to find a way to enable homeowners to convert illegal basement units into legal homes.
“If there was ever proof that we need to address this basement issue, this is it,” she said.
She said she had heard from several residents who had been displaced when their basement apartments had flooded, as homeowners struggled with getting help to start draining the basements or making repairs.
She said because of the need for affordable housing in New York City, and because many lower-income homeowners need supplemental income, people would continue to seek homes in basements, regardless of whether they were illegal. And because so many of the units are illegal, tenants might be reluctant to seek help or complain of unsafe conditions for fear of losing their abode.
“We need to bring basement apartments out of the shadows and in to the light,” Ms. Seecharran said.
Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Adam Playford and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.
President Biden on Thursday said the flash floods that inundated New York City and high-speed winds that left hundreds of thousands without power in Louisiana were a sign that “extreme storms and the climate crisis are here” and that the storms and fires creating life-or-death situations across the country constituted “one of the great challenges of our time.”
“Hurricane Ida didn’t care if you were a Democrat or Republican, rural or urban,” Mr. Biden said, urging Congress to pass his economic agenda when it returned from its recess later this month, in order to provide critical investments in electrical infrastructure. “This destruction is everywhere. And it’s a matter of life and death, and we’re all in this together.”
Mr. Biden said he had approved a disaster declaration for California after speaking with Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday night about the Caldor fire, which has threatened close to 35,000 structures, burned through 200,000 acres and forced tens of thousands of California residents to evacuate their homes.
He said he had also reached out to Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and promised them federal aid. “I made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed.”
In remarks on his administration’s response to Ida, Mr. Biden called on private insurance companies to “do the right thing” and cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of a national disaster, instead of denying coverage for living assistance expenses for some homeowners.
“Don’t hide behind the fine print and technicality,” Mr. Biden said, noting that some insurance companies were denying coverage for homeowners if they were not under mandatory evacuation orders.
“No one fled this killer storm because they were looking for a vacation, or a road trip, or able to stay in a hotel,” he said. “They left their homes because they felt it was flee or risk death. There’s nothing voluntary about that.”
In a stern rebuke of the insurance companies, he told them to “do your job. Keep your commitment to your communities you insure. Do the right thing. Pay your policy holders what you owe them to cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of a natural disaster.”
As the New York City region regained its footing after record-breaking rains that left much of the area’s transportation disrupted, the city’s transit lines were slowly resuming Thursday afternoon, though with partial suspensions and continuing delays.
More than a dozen New York City subway lines were partially suspended, with several others experiencing delays, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s website. Amtrak canceled all trains between Albany and New York City for the rest of the day.
All New Jersey Transit rail service lines remained suspended except for the Atlantic City line; commuter buses continued to operate with delays, the service said.
The Long Island Rail Road resumed full service on most branches by Thursday afternoon, with partial suspensions on trains traveling east of Mets-Willets Point on the Port Washington Branch.
The delays followed a night of intense rainfall that flooded streets and train stations and stranded thousands of travelers.
Phil Eng, president of the Long Island Rail Road, said at a news conference Thursday that the suspension of service was necessary. “It’s not a light decision to make, to shut down service, but with the visibility at near-zero, and seeing the devastation that Ida was causing elsewhere, it was the right call,” he said.
Dozens of flights were also canceled or delayed at Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport, and at least 370 flights were canceled Thursday morning at Newark Liberty International Airport. The lower level of Terminal B in Newark remained closed after flooding overnight.
Janno Lieber, acting chairman of the M.T.A., said on Thursday on CNN that passengers on 15 to 20 subway cars had to be rescued in the storm. No one was injured, he said.
“The subway system in New York is not a submarine,” Mr. Lieber said. “We definitely are subject to weather and water, especially when, like last night, the surface level, street level, drainage and sewer system is overwhelmed.”
When asked about what the system could do to update its subways and protect itself from future storms, Mr. Lieber noted that under-river tunnels were strengthened after Superstorm Sandy. The next step will be to improve coastline resiliency to mitigate floods in high elevation areas and prevent them from overwhelming street drains, he said.
Extreme storms have battered New York’s 24-hour train service in recent years. Service was stalled for several days following damage from Sandy in 2012. And in July of this year, rains from Tropical Storm Elsa created mass flooding that also led to waist-deep water in the city’s subway stations.
At the 96th Street Subway station in Manhattan on Wednesday, Mario Villa, a cook at Tartina, waited at least two hours for a train to his home in Queens. At midnight, sitting on a stalled No. 1 train beside a co-worker, he said, “We’ll wait. We don’t get upset. We just have to wait.”
Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Stacy Cowley, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Christiaan Triebert and Ashley Wong.
Record-breaking rainfall and flooding paralyzed New York City on Wednesday, exposing the city’s vulnerability to heavy downpours that are becoming increasingly more severe with global warming.
As the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the New York area, Central Park recorded 7.19 inches of rain, nearly double the previous record set in 1927 for the same date, according to the National Weather Service. New York City issued its first-ever flash flood emergency alert as furious, wind-driven rains swamped the subway system and led to at least eight deaths.
More intense downpours are a telltale signal of a hotter planet. For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming, scientists have found, the atmosphere can hold about 7 percent more moisture. That means much heavier rainfall when storms do occur.
Across the continental United States, the heaviest downpours have become more frequent and severe in recent decades, according to the federal government’s National Climate Assessment. The Northeast has seen 50 percent more rainfall during the heaviest storms compared with the first half of the 20th century.
New York City is particularly vulnerable to flooding from huge storms. Three-fourths of the city is covered by impervious surfaces like asphalt, which means runoff is channeled into streets and sewers rather than being absorbed by the landscape. And the city’s century-old subway system was not designed for a warming climate. Even on dry days, a network of pumps pours out 14 million gallons of water from its tunnels and stations. Heavy rains can overwhelm the system, as they did on Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has invested $2.6 billion in resiliency projects since Hurricane Sandy inundated the city’s subways in 2012, including fortifying 3,500 subway vents, staircases and elevator shafts against flooding. Still, this week’s flash floods showed that the system remains vulnerable.
Scientists are now able to quantify the role that climate change plays in any particular extreme weather event. While it is still too early for an analysis of Ida, researchers last month determined that violent and deadly downpours in Germany and Belgium in July were made 1.2 to 9 times more likely by global warming.
Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times
Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Anna Watts for The New York Times
Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times
Dakota Santiago for The New York Times
John Taggart for The New York Times
Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
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Monica Herndon/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
Stephanie Keith for The New York Times
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Dakota Santiago for The New York Times
Dakota Santiago for The New York Times
The remnants of Hurricane Ida tore through the New York City region on Wednesday night, dumping record rain and creating flooding in the five boroughs and New Jersey. Here’s a collection of photos of the storm.
For Kathy C. Hochul, the newly installed governor of New York, the fallout from Ida’s torrential rains will be the first major test of her ability to respond to an immediate crisis.
Ms. Hochul, who succeeded Andrew M. Cuomo last week after he resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, has already begun to pull the levers of government to respond to the reports of floods and power outages.
Early on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul declared a state of emergency in New York City and many of its surrounding counties on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, to give local officials more flexibility to quickly respond to the storm’s disruptions.
Later, at a briefing in Queens with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as other elected officials, she said that officials were caught off guard by the ferocity of the rainfall.
“We did not know that between 8:50 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls-level water to the streets of New York,” Ms. Hochul said. “Could that have been anticipated? I want to find out.”
She added, “There were warnings, tornado warnings all throughout the evening, but I’ll see whether or not more could have been done.”
Ms. Hochul said that she had spoken with President Biden, who “offered any assistance” as New York begins to assess the extent of the damage. And she said that she had directed the Department of Financial Services to get in touch with residents whose homes were flooded to help them file insurance claims to receive reimbursements for the damages.
Ms. Hochul said that while the state had learned valuable lessons from Hurricane Sandy, the street-level flash floods that occurred on Wednesday night underscored the city’s vulnerabilities, adding the possibility of such floods “were unknown before.”
At a subsequent briefing on Long Island, Ms. Hochul defended the state’s response, claiming that projections had underestimated the amount of rain that fell in the region.
“We talked to the meteorologists,” Ms. Hochul said. “They do their best predictions, but this is not the only place in the country where people have been stunned by a turn of events.”
Before the briefings, Ms. Hochul had gone on a media blitz to provide updates of the storm’s effects following reports of inundated subway stations and multiple deaths, urging people to stay off the roads and avoid any unnecessary travel.
Near midnight on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul went on CNN and NY1. By 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, she appeared on those news channels again, as well as two local radio stations.
“We knew there was a storm coming, but that was actually unprecedented and now we’re still dealing with the aftermath and the loss of life is definitely heartbreaking,” Ms. Hochul told WINS (1010).
In many ways, her response to the extensive storm damage will provide a real-time sampling of how Ms. Hochul preforms as the state’s highest executive in a high-pressure situation, and shed light on her leadership style as she seeks to work with local officials and comfort distressed New Yorkers.
Ms. Hochul’s response may offer a study in contrasts to Mr. Cuomo, who basked in his role as crisis manager. But Mr. Cuomo drew criticism for favoring a top-down approach to governing in which he would often overrule local officials and hold storm briefings without Mr. de Blasio, his political nemesis.
“The report was three to six inches over the course of a whole day, which was not a particularly problematic amount,” Mr. de Blasio said during the briefing on Thursday. “That turned into the biggest single hour of rainfall in New York City history with almost no wind.”
Ms. Hochul was originally scheduled to hold an event in Yonkers on Wednesday morning to sign the state’s recently extended eviction moratorium into law, but her office canceled the appearance shortly after declaring the state of emergency.
Eric Adams, who as the Democratic nominee is the likely next mayor of New York City, expressed alarm over the devastation he saw in hard-struck areas from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
In television interviews late on Wednesday and on Thursday, he described his shock. Mr. Adams said he had witnessed flooding in Brooklyn that he hadn’t seen before, including flooding on a ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge.
“I had to assist some of the motorists,” Mr. Adams said. He called on New Yorkers to help their neighbors and said, “It’s real that global warming is here.”
Mr. Adams said that he normally expects flooding in coastal parts of Brooklyn, like Coney Island, but that he was getting reports of inundations in many other neighborhoods as well.
“I have never witnessed something like this,” Mr. Adams said.
On Twitter, he offered condolences to New Yorkers whose family members had died in the flooding.
At least eight of our neighbors in this city have lost their lives due to historic flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
That includes a two-year-old boy and his family in Queens, and a 66-year-old man in Cypress Hills.
Our hearts are with their loved ones in mourning.
— Eric Adams (@BKBoroHall) September 2, 2021
At one point in his televised appearances, Mr. Adams stressed that the devastation was “a real wake-up call to all of us how we must understand how this climate change is impacting us.” He spoke briefly about the need for improved infrastructure and “new solutions” and the need to “think differently” about how to respond to climate change.
But his environmental platform has not been a focal point of his mayoral campaign. The Democratic primary he won was largely focused on how to deal with rising crime.
Mr. Adams did release a plan on Earth Day to combat climate change by upgrading the electric grid to renewable energy and focusing on wind and solar projects that would help create jobs and help low income communities most affected by climate change.
Happy #EarthDay2021! Today, I’m releasing my plan for transforming NYC into a global leader in sustainability, environmental preservation, green technology, and more — because the climate crisis requires nothing less than our total commitment to a greener future. pic.twitter.com/ganV31NqQ0
— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) April 22, 2021
“Eric has called for significant changes to how we approach resiliency — including a comprehensive citywide process to determine where we need to invest in coordination with our state and federal partners and metrics for tracking the number of people at risk of injury from a flood,” said Evan Thies, a spokesman for Mr. Adams.
The near-certitude that he will be New York’s next mayor was evident. Just before midnight, Don Lemon, a CNN host, welcomed Mr. Adams as the mayor-elect before quickly correcting himself.
“Excuse me. Mayor nominee,” Mr. Lemon said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
During a CNN appearance on Thursday, Mr. Adams was asked what people should do if they were trapped in the subway. Mr. Adams, a former transit police officer, told people to wait for help from emergency officials.
His spokesman, Mr. Thies, said that Mr. Adams was speaking from his personal experience.
“Eric’s a first responder, first and foremost,” he said. “In crises, he uses his training as a public safety officer, his resources as borough president, and his knowledge as a lifetime New Yorker to make sure people are getting the help they need and government is responding in real time.”
Before the storm, Mr. Adams was scheduled to appear with Gov. Kathy C. Hochul in Brooklyn but the event was canceled as the governor planned a news conference with Mr. de Blasio.
Mr. Adams appeared at the news conference with the governor and the mayor, but did not speak.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy said he asked President Biden to declare the state a major disaster Thursday afternoon, shortly after he viewed the wreckage left by Hurricane Ida in southern New Jersey.
“We’ll continue to work with our federal partners to meet the needs of our people and businesses,” he said on Twitter.
Mr. Biden said on Thursday that he had reached out to Mr. Murphy and Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and promised them federal aid.
“I made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed,” he said.
Mr. Murphy spent the morning in Harrison Township, a southern New Jersey suburb in Gloucester County, where tornadoes destroyed and damaged stretches of houses. Two large farms were devastated by the storm, including one that lost 100 of its cows, Louis Manzo, the mayor of Harrison, told reporters Thursday morning.
Mr. Murphy called the storm an “unspeakable, extraordinary event” that should serve as a reminder of the effects of climate change.
“There is no other way to put it,” Mr. Murphy said as he stood in front of homes in Mullica Hill that were destroyed by tornadoes Wednesday night. “The world is changing. These storms are coming in more frequently, with more intensity.”
He said that any funding that comes from the federal government from the infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month would go to building defenses against future climate disasters.
Stephen M. Sweeney, the president of the State Senate, joined the governor and other local and state officials who surveyed the damage, and said Gloucester County looked like “a bomb hit in some places.”
“Anyone who is a global warming denier, take a look at what’s going around,” said Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat whose district covers Gloucester Township. “These things are getting stronger and there is more damage. We’ve got to do something.”
City buses turned into amphibious vehicles, plowing through several feet of water, past orange traffic cones floating like buoys in the muck.
Subway stations roared with the sounds of rushing water that cascaded through platforms and down the stairs as if from a churning waterfall, flooding the tracks below.
In parts of Brooklyn, cars moved through lakes of mud-brown water, their headlights shining on waves that formed in front of their wheels and lapped at the feet of brownstones.
The sudden inundation from the remnants of Ida transformed familiar scenes of life in New York into otherworldly and waterlogged chaos on Wednesday night. The rain continued into early Thursday morning.
It was frightening and foreboding — a vision, many said, of the future as climate change produces more extreme and heavy rainfall during storms.
Nearly every subway line in the city was shut down, and Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency, citing the “record-breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads.”
“If you’re thinking of going outside, don’t,” he said on Twitter. “Stay off the subways. Stay off the roads. Don’t drive into these heavy waters.”
The National Weather Service placed New York City under a flash flood emergency for the first time after the city was socked with torrential rainfall.
Over a single hour — between 8:51 and 9:51 p.m. — Central Park recorded 3.15 inches of rain, smashing a record set only last week, when 1.94 inches of rain fell in the park during Tropical Storm Henri.
Not everyone was heeding the official warnings to stay inside.
Social media filled with images of delivery workers driving or pushing bicycles through the floodwaters. One video posted on Twitter showed a man floating on an inflatable raft in a flooded alleyway, casually puffing on a hookah. Other videos showed cars trapped on flooded boulevards.
“We are seeing way too many reports of water rescues and stranded motorists,” the New York office of the National Weather Service said on Twitter. “Do not drive through flooded roadways. You do not know how deep the water is and it is too dangerous.”
All across the city, wild scenes were unfolding.
City officials warned that 60-mile-an-hour wind gusts were expected. And the wind-driven rain poured through the roof of Louis Armstrong Stadium, pelting fans who opened umbrellas and delaying a match at the U.S. Open in Queens.
The Film Forum, an art-house cinema in Manhattan, flooded during a showing of the French film “La Piscine”, leading audience members to joke that it was an immersive experience.
On Broadway, theatergoers watching “Pass Over” eyed one another warily as some half-dozen screeching emergency alerts rippled through audience members’ phones — though the actors stayed in character.
The stunning storm was deadly serious, with unpredictable risks unfolding as the sluicing rain and gusting wind continued in the dark, taking some motorists and walkers by surprise. Residents in some neighborhoods posted videos of water rushing in through closed doors, filling hallways.
“We are BEYOND not ready for climate change,” Mark Levine, a City Council representative, declared on Twitter.
Jesus Jiménez and Maggie Astor contributed reporting.
Record levels of rain fell across the New York City area on Wednesday as the remains of Hurricane Ida moved through. Here are the total amounts measured by the National Weather Service between 4 a.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday at locations across the region.
Central Park: 7.19 inches
Kennedy International Airport: 2.77 inches
Long Island Mac Arthur Airport: 2.63 inches
Farmingdale, Republic Airport, N.Y.: 2.01 inches
Shirley, Brookhaven Airport, N.Y.: 1.84 inches
Westhampton Beach, Francis S. Gabreski Airport: 1.48 inches
Newark Liberty International Airport: 8.44 inches.
Somerville, Somerset Airport, N.J.: 2.92 inches
Trenton, Mercer County Airport, N.J.: 5.6 inches
The remnants of Hurricane Ida swept across parts of southern New England on Thursday, flooding streets and homes but not causing the catastrophic damage that just hours earlier had paralyzed the New York City area and led to the deaths of at least two dozen people.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, more than nine inches of rain had fallen in New Bedford, Mass., and nearly seven inches had fallen in Middletown, Conn.
Portsmouth, R.I., was drenched with more than eight inches of rain, while about four inches had fallen in Hudson, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
A tornado touched down around 1:45 a.m. in Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod, with winds of about 75 m.p.h., the Weather Service said.
The tornado caused minor damage to one house and some tree damage, but nobody was injured, according to Lt. Peter Benson of the Dennis Police Department. “From talking to the people in the home, they realized what was going on and they sheltered in the basement,” he said.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said it had been in contact with communities across the state to determine the extent of the damage from the storm.
“At this time, the observed damage is mostly street flooding and other minor flooding as well as trees/power lines down resulting in scattered power outages,” the agency said in a statement.
A road in Portsmouth, R.I., had crumbled, and water service in the area was “extremely limited,” the police there said.
In Waltham, Mass., the police shared an image of several school buses submerged in floodwater while the police in Bristol, R.I., shared a photo of submerged cars and urged residents not to “attempt to drive around barricades or officers on posts” because they might not make it through the flooded streets.
In Northbridge, Mass., roughly 43 miles southwest of Boston, the police reported that the Blackstone River had flooded backyards and had reached roads.
At 11 a.m., Amtrak announced that all service between Washington and Boston had been canceled for the day.
The Weather Service warned of life-threatening flash flooding in urban areas, including on highways and below underpasses, and in areas near streams and small rivers.
Neil Mello, chief of staff to the mayor of New Bedford, said that despite the report that nine inches of rain had fallen there, most of the city had received about five inches.
The Fire Department was busy overnight pumping out flooded basements, he said, and some low-lying intersections had flooded. But “compared to winter storms and other storm events, the impact on the city traffic-wise and power-wise was pretty modest,” Mr. Mello said.
Several rivers in Connecticut were approaching or had crested above moderate flood stage, the Weather Service said, including the Mount Hope River in Warrenville, the Quinnipiac River in Southington, and the North Branch Park River in Hartford.
“While many rivers and streams are swollen, a total of 15 river forecast points are in flood stage” in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the Weather Service said on Thursday. “River flooding will remain a concern.”
After heavy rain overnight, more rain was expected across parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where flash flood warnings were in effect, the National Weather Service said.
Although the rainfall was beginning to move out of the area, there were still many flooded roads throughout southern New England.
“It will take time for the water to recede in these areas,’’ the Weather Service in Boston said. “Do not attempt to cross any flooded roads this morning. Turn around don’t drown!”
Rhode Island has already seen two tropical storms make landfall this hurricane season: Henri last month, and Elsa in July.
Mobile coronavirus testing sites in New York City were reopening on Thursday as the area worked to recover from the flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Some vaccination sites also remained closed or with delayed openings, the city’s alert system said.
The city urged people seeking vaccinations to call ahead or check on its vaccine finder website before heading out, particularly as public transportation remains limited.
Overall, public and private city hospitals reported minimal storm damage and relatively normal operations as they dealt with both storm-related problems and the pandemic.
“Our facilities sheltered some community members through the storm, and today our social workers are connecting any patients affected with relevant community resources,” said Chris Miller, a spokesman for the city’s public hospital system.
A Northwell Health spokeswoman said some elective surgeries in Manhattan were being postponed because of staffing issues caused by public transportation problems, but that all of its hospitals were open.
The city is still dealing with a virus surge caused by the Delta variant, with an average of about 1,800 cases per day. Hospitalizations, however, have remained well below previous peaks. About 885 people are currently hospitalized in New York City for Covid-19, according to state data, compared to more than 12,000 in the spring of 2020.
All city-run virus testing sites will also be closed for Labor Day, the city announced, unlike earlier in the pandemic, when testing sites remained open on major holidays.
Adam Shrier, a spokesman for the city’s Test and Trace Corps, said the rainfall had prevented one city-run testing site, at St. James Recreation Center on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, from opening on Thursday. But other sites were open as usual, and by noon on Thursday the city’s fleet of more than 40 mobile testing units was operational, Mr. Shrier said.
“Our staff are going above and beyond to continue their critical work with minimal disruption, as they have through inclement weather several times before,” Mr. Shrier wrote in an email. “It is our priority to provide no-cost, convenient testing options to patients across the city, a mission that is more important than ever as New Yorkers recover from the impact of this storm.”
Heavy rains and flooding in New Jersey on Wednesday night led some desperate drivers to abandon their cars on roadways, prompting authorities to ask for help on Thursday removing them.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation said on Twitter that it had asked state, county, and local police to remove those vehicles from state and interstate roadways.
NJDOT has requested the New Jersey State, County & Municipal Police remove any abandoned or disabled vehicle on State & Interstate Roadways – Statewide, effective at 4 am today. If your vehicle was removed, contact your local police non-emergency number. Stay Home, Stay Safe
— NJDOT (@NewJerseyDOT) September 2, 2021
“Stay Home, Stay Safe” the department said on Twitter. The department did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages seeking additional information about the number of vehicles that were abandoned.
Telephone and email messages sent to the New Jersey State Police were not immediately returned.
The New York Times