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Record rain leaves New York City flooded, disrupts public transit

  • Intense flooding was reported in NY, surrounding areas Friday
  • New York governor declared a state of emergency over extreme rainfall
  • Gov. Kathy Hochul: This is a dangerous, 'life-threatening' situation

(NewsNation) — A record amount of rain hit New York’s metropolitan area Friday, causing intense flooding that shut down parts of the city’s subway system and cut off access to roads and at least one terminal at LaGuardia Airport.

NewsNation local affiliate PIX 11 reports flooding has been happening in multiple neighborhoods and towns near New York City after a major coastal storm. Flooding was also reported around Hoboken, New Jersey.

More than 7.25 inches of rain had fallen in parts of Brooklyn by nightfall, with at least one spot seeing 2.5 inches in a single hour, according to weather and city officials. The 8.65 inches at John F. Kennedy Airport surpassed its record for any September day, a bar set during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

“This is a dangerous, life-threatening storm,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in an interview with TV station NY1. “Count on this for the next 20 hours.”

Hochul declared a state of emergency across New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

“Please take steps to stay safe and remember to never attempt to travel on flooded roads,” she wrote on social media.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams also announced an emergency declaration, and told people to shelter in place for the time being, PIX11 reported. National Guard members have been deployed.

Friday was the wettest day New York has seen since Hurricane Ida, according to the city’s Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.

After the rain’s expected end Saturday, officials will begin the recovery process, Iscol said.

There have been no reports yet of any serious injuries or deaths resulting from the storms. It did, however, stir frightening memories of when Ida dumped record-breaking rain on the Northeast and killed at least 13 people in New York City, mostly in flooded basement apartments.

Ida killed three of Joy Wong’s neighbors, including a toddler. And on Friday, water began lapping against the front door of her building in Woodside, Queens.

“I was so worried,” she said. It became too dangerous to leave: “Outside was like a lake, like an ocean.”

Within minutes, water filled the building’s basement nearly to the ceiling. After the family’s deaths in 2021, the basement was turned into a recreation room. It is now destroyed.

City officials said they got reports of six flooded basement apartments Friday, but all occupants got out safely.

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs subway and commuter rail lines, urged residents to stay home if they could.

Multiple subway lines were suspended, partially suspended or delayed because of flooding. Cars were floating, and even stuck in the middle of the street, after being overcome with water.

Flights into LaGuardia were briefly halted, then delayed, because of water in the airport’s refueling area. Flooding also forced the closure of one of the airport’s three terminals for several hours. Terminal A resumed normal operations around 8 p.m.

Metro-North commuter rail service from Manhattan was suspended for much of the day but began resuming by evening. The Long Island Rail Road was snarled, 44 of the city’s 3,500 buses got stranded and bus service was disrupted citywide, transit officials said.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier Friday his office is receiving updates on the flooding situation, and the department is ready to provide any assistance.

“Those in the area should check for announcements on transit impacts and follow instructions from state/local officials to stay safe,” Buttigieg said.

A Brooklyn elementary was evacuated after its boiler started smoking, possibly because of water getting into it.

New York City Public Schools said its schools have safety plans in place and are trained to prepare for “days like today.” Building Response Teams were activated, and protocol is to “shelter-in-place,” NYC Public Schools said on Twitter.

Some schools took in water, it added, and facilities personnel were working to repair any storm or flooding related damage.

Those living in low-lying areas are being encouraged to head to higher ground. Hochul said residents need to evacuate their homes if water starts to rise.

On X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, the New York Rangers announced it is postponing a game against the New York Islanders until Saturday.

Hoboken, New Jersey, and other cities and towns around New York City also experienced flooding. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called for state offices to close at 3 p.m., except for essential personnel.

Why so much rain? The remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia over the Atlantic Ocean combined with a mid-latitude system arriving from the west, at a time of year when conditions coming off the ocean are particularly juicy for storms, National Weather Service meteorologist Ross Dickman said. And this combination storm parked itself over New York for 12 hours.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In this image taken from video, a section of the FDR Drive sits submerged in flood waters, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in New York. A potent rush-hour rainstorm has swamped the New York metropolitan area. The deluge Friday shut down swaths of the subway system, flooded some streets and highways, and cut off access to at least one terminal at LaGuardia Airport. (AP Photo/Jake Offenhartz)

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