Officials in the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey Thursday said at least 18 people are dead after flash flooding caused by an historic torrential rainfall struck the northeastern United States, driven by remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Officials in New York City say as many as 14 people died while trapped in basement apartments by flood waters. Others were caught in their cars.
The storm system that originally came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday in Louisiana dumped so much rain in New York City on Wednesday that the National Weather Service issued its first flash flood emergency for the iconic metropolis and the neighboring city of Newark, New Jersey.
Many streets were quickly turned into rivers, leaving cars and even commuter buses submerged. Most of the city’s subway system was forced to shut down due to flooding.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke with reporters after touring the city and noted the record-setting eight centimeters of rain that fell in an hour in New York’s Central Park, breaking a record set just one week earlier. She said that tells her that this kind of cataclysmic event is no longer “unforeseeable,” and the city and state need to be prepared.
Speaking at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged emergency assistance to governors of both New Jersey and New York as well as other states in the region and sent his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
He also said he will be traveling to Louisiana Friday to meet with Governor John Bel Edwards to discuss the recovery efforts from Ida there. The president said the nation’s Federal Emergency Management Agency ((FEMA)) and other agencies will be working around the clock until the needs of the region are fully met.
Biden noted the region hit by Ida is a key center of the nation’s oil production and refining infrastructure. He said the government was moving quickly to make sure gasoline continues flowing throughout the country.
“We’re all in this together,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. “The nation is here to help.”
The president also called extreme storms and wildfires burning in the west a reminder that climate change is here, and he urged Congress to pass his infrastructure bill, which contains measures to address it.