The torrent swept his father, Dameshwar, across the home, as he clutched for the hand of his wife, who was known as Tara. “I tried to hold on to my wife, and she was trying to hold on to me,” he said on Thursday. He began to cry. “But the water pushed me away and I couldn’t feel her hand anymore.”
Ms. Ramskriet and their 22-year-old son, who went by Nick, both drowned.
As the waters receded on Thursday, Sabrina Shivprasad, a family friend, stood outside the apartment, its wall punched in by the cresting water, exposing what once was a family home. “When you saw the husband, you saw the wife,” Ms. Shivprasad said. “They were always together, they were like shadows to each other.”
In Elizabeth, N.J., two men and two women, ages 72 to 33, all residents of the Oaks at Westminster apartment complex, were killed as the Elizabeth River rose into their ground-floor apartments, according to Chris Bollwage, the mayor. Their names had not yet been released.
Raw sewage had sluiced through the Oaks complex, and on Thursday, all 600 residents were being evacuated, guided onto school buses en route to temporary shelters, Mr. Bollwage said. The river had risen between eight and 10 feet above its banks, he said; waterfront apartments lay with their doors smashed open, mud swirled across exposed living rooms. “It is really a true tragedy,” he said.
Some were lost even after daring rescue attempts. A cascade of water burst the glass sliding doors of a basement apartment Darlene Lee was visiting in the complex where she lived on Grand Central Parkway in Queens.
She became pinned between the steel door behind it and the door frame, said Patricia Fuentes, the condominium’s property manager, who heard her screams and grabbed two members of the building’s staff to try and free Ms. Lee.
As they worked, they tried to keep her head above the water, which had risen to her chin, said Andy Tapia, a maintenance worker. But by the time she was prised free, she had lost consciousness, he said. “We tried in vain,” Mr. Tapia said.
Sarah Maslin Nir