Disasters & Accidents

Death toll from flooding in northeast US climbs to at least 42

(Update 3: Provides higher death toll, additional info)

New York, Sep 2 (EFE).- At least 42 people in the northeastern United States have died from torrential rains, flash floods and strong winds associated with the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which earlier this week caused widespread devastation in the country’s southeast.

Earlier on Thursday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had confirmed 23 of the deaths at a press conference, and he added on Twitter that most of these deaths were individuals who became trapped in their vehicles due to the flooding.

According to local authorities and media outlets, 12 other people died in New York City due to flooding: three in Westchester County, three in Philadelphia and one in Connecticut.

In New York, the majority of the fatalities have occurred in the borough of Queens, including a 2-year-old boy.

In contrast to New Jersey, most of those who have died in New York City so far have perished when their basement apartments flooded.

Meanwhile, Westchester County authorities reported at least three deaths, with one person drowning after a car accident on the roadway along the Hutchinson River.

In Pennsylvania, authorities in Montgomery County reported Thursday morning that three storm-related deaths had been reported, including a woman who died when a tree fell on her home.

After this historic storm, New York, which declared a state of emergency on Wednesday night, is still trying to get its subway system working again after service was paralyzed due to significant flooding, with cascades of water pouring down entry stairways and from the roofs of the underground subway stations.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the life-saving efforts of the city’s first responders but also said the federal government needs to act quickly to increase preparedness for future extreme-weather events.

“Last night’s storm was horrifying and unlike anything our city has ever faced. We lost nine people to this storm. The sudden brutality of these storms is not a coincidence. Climate change is REAL and we have to act NOW before more lives are lost,” he said on Twitter, adding that “we need real infrastructure investments and we need them now.”

After making landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane, causing widespread devastation in that state and being blamed for six deaths in the southeastern US, Ida walloped the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in what De Blasio called a “historic weather event.”

In Central Park, 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) of rain fell in just one hour between 8.51 pm and 9.51 pm on Wednesday night, the largest amount since records began to be kept there in 1870. The massive downpour triggered the city’s first-ever flash-flood emergency.

New York state Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a briefing in Queens that Wednesday night’s rainfall was “Niagara Falls-level” and pointed to shortcomings in New York City’s drainage systems.

She also said that she had been on the phone with President Joe Biden and received assurances that the federal government would provide any assistance her state needs.

“I told them, we’ll take him up on that,” Hochul said.

Biden himself conveyed that same message in remarks Thursday from the White House.

Speaking ahead of his scheduled trip Friday to Louisiana to survey the hurricane damage there, he stressed that “we’re all in this together.”

“The nation is here to help. That’s the message I’ve been making clear to the mayors, governors, energy and utility leaders in the region who my administration has been working closely with over the last few days.”

Biden also called on insurance companies to help “some folks who are hurting” amid some reports about denial of coverage for Ida-related damage.

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