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Flooding from torrential rainfall remnants of Hurricane Ida left at least 28 people dead in and around New York on Thursday, including several who died in basements during a “historic” weather event that authorities attributed to climate change.
The record rainfall, which prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency warning for New York City, turned streets into rivers and caused the subway to shut down, with water cascading onto the tracks at many stations.
Hundreds of flights were canceled at LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as in Newark, in the neighboring state of New Jersey, where video images showed a terminal flooded by rain.
Flooding impeded traffic on major thoroughfares in several New York boroughs, including Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, submerging many vehicles and forcing firefighters to rescue hundreds of people.
“Among the people MOST at risk during the flash floods here are those living in unregistered basement homes that don’t meet safety codes,” tweeted lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
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Gov. Phil Murphy said most of the deaths were people trapped in their vehicles by floodwaters and were “overtaken by water.” Authorities said many people were missing.
On Thursday, water rescues continued in some areas, and in New York City a new task force was going into homes to make sure there were no more victims in basements.Advertisement
In the Philadelphia area, some streets were flooded, delaying city train and bus services, shutting down buildings and prompting leaders to urge people to work from home.
In New York City, first responders rescued passengers from halted subway trains Wednesday night, while other commuters were stranded overnight in subway stations, some sleeping on benches with service suspended and no way to reach their destinations.
Beverly Pryce, a nurse from Queens, was among those who spent the night in a Manhattan subway station after leaving her home Wednesday night to go to work, but flooding brought everything to a standstill.
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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Mario Cuomo called throughout the day for people to stay indoors as a safety precaution and to ensure safe passage for firefighters and emergency crews. After one o’clock in the morning, the worst was over, but the rain continued to fall throughout most of the night, although with less intensity. Ambulance sirens sounded in the streets. There were no panic scenes and few people went out into the streets, even before the hurricane actually arrived.
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Frustration was growing Friday among victims of Superstorm Sandy in the northeastern United States, where many were left without power and gasoline and have little information about when they might return to normal. Gasoline shortages in New Jersey and nearby municipalities battered by Sandy caused people to wait in long lines and there were some fights.
New York City is trying to recover from the disasters caused by Hurricane Sandy amid recent anger over delays in aid and a rising death toll. The total death toll in one of the biggest storms to hit the United States rose by a third on Thursday alone, to 98. In New York, 40 people lost their lives, half of them on Staten Island, which was inundated by a wall of water on Monday.
While residents on the U.S. East Coast fled Sandy by moving to other states and settling in hotels or the homes of family and friends hoping for an end to the storm, local panhandlers had no such chance. Those who were luckier got a bed out of the 46,631 beds in New York’s homeless shelters. The rest tried to save themselves as best they could.