Social media was awash with shocking footage from New York City as Hurricane Ida's remnants dumped up to six inches of rain onto the city, resulting in flooded streets, submerged subways, and at at least one guy floating down an alley on a raft while smoking a hookah.
The images were like something out of a Roland Emmerich disaster film; subway trains splitting curtains of falling water as they emerged from tunnels, the passengers inside standing on their seats to avoid the encroaching waters.
Democratic City Council candidate Shaun Abreu tweeted about the flooding, pointing to trash and climate change as the reasons for the chaos.
“Why is this happening?” he wrote. “Because trash is allowed to build up in and around the station, blocking drainage. Because we have neglected our infrastructure for decades and it has reached its limit. Because climate change is creating conditions that our city was not built to withstand.”
Above ground, flood waters carried cars through intersections and turned stairways into cascading waterfalls.
This looks more like a subway car wash than a subway station. This flooding has to be doing an incredible amount of damage to the NYC subway system. pic.twitter.com/bgtMbjiHvM
— Mike Saccone (@mikesacconetv) September 2, 2021
The flooding has killed at least 12 people so far, and more may be discovered in the coming days. At least four of the deaths were attributed to people being trapped in basement apartments when the flood surged, including a toddler and their family.
Another fatality was attributed to a car crash in Queens. The vehicle was rear ended and exploded, killing its occupant, who has not yet been identified.
Deborah Torres, speaking with the New York Daily News, said she and her 14-year-old daughter were lounging in their pajamas when the floodwaters burst into their first-floor apartment in Queens.
“It was so fast,” Ms Torres said. “My daughter started to scream, ‘Mommy! Mommy! The water’s coming up!’ And when I came out from my room the water was already on my feet. And we didn’t have time, the water started to come, come, come.”
🇺🇸⚠️ — VIDEO: Heavy flooding in Boro Park, Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/40SpypH5GA
— Belaaz (@TheBelaaz) September 2, 2021
She said her apartment was submerged in eight minutes.
“My sofa was floating. This never happened before,” she said. “I wasn’t paying attention to my things – I was so worried about the family downstairs.”
The 86-year-old woman living in the downstairs apartment was found dead the next morning by her son.
The NYPD had to work through the night to rescue people from flooded streets and apartments. After Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency, a travel ban was enacted and the Metropolitan Transit Authority suspended subway service.
The US Open was flooded and suspended due to rain sweeping in before the roof of the Louis Armstrong Stadium could be closed. Tennis fans leaving the venue found themselves wading through knee deep water on their way out.
The outfield at Yankee Stadium was also completely submerged by the floodwaters, though the team avoided a game cancellation as they were playing in California on the night of the storm.
In New Jersey, floodwaters surged into Newark Airport, forcing officials to halt operations.
The flooding was so severe that the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning in the city for the first time in history.