Ida updates: 12 dead in NYC as subway stations turned into waterfalls, streets became rivers

(NEW YORK) — So far in the Northeast, at least 21 deaths have been attributed to the storm.

A flash flood emergency was declared for the first time in New York City as subway stations were turned into waterfalls and Midtown streets became rivers. New York City also declared a state of emergency.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning the death toll in the Big Apple was nine. That number rose to 12 by afternoon after firefighters in Queens discovered three more bodies.

“We saw a horrifying storm last night. Unlike anything we’ve seen before,” De Blasio said. “Unfortunately the price paid by some New Yorkers, was horrible and tragic.”

President Joe Biden spoke on Ida’s damage in the Northeast Thursday afternoon, citing that New York recorded more rain Wednesday “than it usually sees the entire month of September.”

“People were trapped in the subways. But the heroic men and women of the New York Fire Department rescued all of them. They were trapped,” Biden said.

He said he’s made it clear to East Coast governors that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is “on the ground” and ready to provide assistance.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a Thursday morning briefing that the “Metro-North, LIRR and the New York City subway system are not fully functioning” and her focus will be on flood prevention.

“Before we worried about coastal areas, now it’s about what’s happening in the streets, the drainage systems that need to be enhanced,” Hochul said. “Because of climate change, unfortunately, this is something we’re going to have to deal with with great regularity.”

She said more than 100 people were rescued in Rockland and Westchester county alone.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said 8 of the 9 deaths took place in residential homes in basements. A sentiment echoed by New York officials in the briefing was improving flooding resilience in the city.

Four residents of the Oakwood Plaza apartment complex in Elizabeth, New Jersey, were found dead in the aftermath of the flooding, Mayor Chris Bollwage said in a press conference Thursday morning.

The victims included a 72-year-old wife, a 71-year-old husband, a 38-year-old son and a 33-year-old female who was their neighbor, officials said.

Rescuers have been checking the rent roll and going door-to-door though the entire complex to make sure no other bodies are found, a spokesperson for the Mayor told ABC News. The complex is across from the Elizabeth Fire Department headquarters, which was inundated with 8 feet of water.

At least one person also died due to the flooding in Passaic, New Jersey, Mayor Hector Carlos Lora confirmed on Facebook Thursday morning.

Early Thursday in Queens, the New York Police Department said that after responding to a flooding condition at a partially collapsed building, they found two people — a 43-year-old female and a 22-year-old male — unconscious and unresponsive inside. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman was taken to the local hospital, where she later died. “The investigation is ongoing and the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. The identification of the deceased is pending family notification,” they said.

At a second flooded location in Queens, the NYPD said they found a 50-year-old male, a 48-year-old female and a 2-year-old male, unconscious and unresponsive, within the residence. They were all pronounced dead at the scene.

Also in Queens, police responded to a 911 call of a flooding condition and discovered a 48-year-old female, unconscious and unresponsive, within the residence. “The aided female was removed by EMS to Forest Hills Hospital where she was pronounced deceased,” they said. An 86-year-old woman also died in her Queens apartment due to flooding, police said.

After responding to a similar flooding incident in Brooklyn, the NYPD said officers found “a 66-year-old male, unresponsive and unconscious, within the residence.” He was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday afternoon, the landlord at an apartment in Flushing, Queens, called 911 to say there were three bodies submerged in a flooded basement, according to the FDNY.

“FDNY members rescued hundreds of people citywide during the storm, removing occupants from trapped vehicles on flooded roadways and removing New Yorkers from subway stations,” department spokesman Frank Dwyer told ABC News.

A 19-year-old male was found dead due to flooding at the Rockville Apartments in Montgomery County, Maryland, police said in a news release. Officials received multiple calls for flooding at the home at 3:50 a.m. and 150 residents were displaced by flood waters.

In Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, three storm-related fatalities were reported, Commissioner Dr. Val Arkoosh said in a press briefing Thursday morning.

One of those was an unnamed woman who died when a tree fell onto a home in Upper Dublin Township, Pennsylvania, local ABC Philadelphia affiliate WPVI reported.

The inundating rainfall Wednesday evening broke records. Central Park reported a record of 3.15 inches of rain in one hour from 8:51 p.m. to 9:51 p.m., the National Weather Service reported.

New York issued a citywide travel ban just before 1 a.m. ET Thursday until 5 a.m.

“All non-emergency vehicles must be off NYC streets and highways,” the city said.

Due to severe weather, there is a travel ban in effect beginning now until 5:00 AM on 9/2. All non-emergency vehicles must be off NYC streets and highways.

— NYCEM – Notify NYC (@NotifyNYC) September 2, 2021

Every subway line in the city was suspended, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, due to so many flooded stations. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told ABC station WABC that people were being evacuated from subway cars stuck underground.

Water cascades onto a New York City subway train as remnants of Hurricane Ida bring flooding rain to the Northeast. https://t.co/pKqmXs6g8J pic.twitter.com/sYmzPSGb1I

— ABC News (@ABC) September 2, 2021

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency to “help New Yorkers.”

“Earlier tonight I declared a State of Emergency in New York State within the counties of Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester in response to major flooding due to Tropical Depression Ida,” she said in a statement, also encouraging New Yorkers to “please pay attention to local weather reports, stay off the roads and avoid all unnecessary travel during this time.”

I am declaring a state of emergency to help New Yorkers affected by tonight’s storm.

Please stay off the roads and avoid all unnecessary travel.

— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 2, 2021

In Passaic, New Jersey, Mayor Lora said Thursday on the confirmed fatality that the person was trapped inside their car, which was “overtaken by water.”

The mayor — who declared a state of emergency in the city — also said that two other residents are reported to have been swept away by the water. The search continues for them.

“We continue to receive reports of incidents that have occurred throughout the city. Vehicles can be repaired, property can be replaced, but loss of life we cannot bring that back,” Lora said.

At the same time, he said, 60 residents are receiving temporary shelter in City Hall.

“We have too many areas where the flooding has gotten so bad that cars are stuck and we have bodies underwater,” Lora said in a video posted to Facebook. “We are now retrieving bodies.”

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy quickly declared an emergency with 3 to 5 inches of rain falling per hour in some locations across the tristate area.

“We will use every resource at our disposal to ensure the safety of New Jerseyans,” Murphy tweeted. “Stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe.”

He was not specific about how many people may have been killed or injured in the floods.

At Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, a baggage area was flooded and flights were grounded.

“We’re experiencing severe flooding due to tonight’s storm,” the airport’s account tweeted. “All flight activity is currently suspended & travelers are strongly advised to contact their airline for the latest flight & service resumption information. Passengers are being diverted from ground-level flooded areas.”

The U.S. Open, taking place in Queens, New York, had to pause one tennis match as the court was flooded — despite there being a roof over the court — due to rain coming in the side of the stadium.

Several homes were damaged in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, across from Philadelphia, after warnings went out about possible tornadoes.

“Gloucester County has experienced devastating storm damage,” the county said in a statement. “It is likely that multiple tornadoes have touched down within our communities. Our Emergency Operations Center is fully activated with multiple local, county, state, and regional partners assessing damages and deploying resources.”

In Gloucester County, 20-25 homes were “completely devastated,” and roughly 100 more sustained some damage, when a tornado ripped through Harrison Township, Wednesday, the mayor of the Harrison Township told ABC News.

Mayor Lou Manzo said the community is “blessed” that no one died and only one person had to go to the hospital, but the damage to property across the township is “extensive,” he said.

Fire and emergency personnel made “a few rescues” of people who became trapped after sheltering in their basement, according to the mayor.

There was also a “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” located near Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, at about 6:30 p.m. and another “confirmed large and destructive tornado” over Beverly, near Trenton, at 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Early Thursday there were 101,652 customers without power in Pennsylvania, 73,348 in New Jersey, 51,931 in New York and 34,449 in Connecticut, according to poweroutage.us.

The Schuylkill River in Philadelphia is rising into major flood stage early Thursday morning and is forecast to rise a few additional feet before cresting around 9 a.m.. The National Weather Service has increased their predicted water level for the river to 17.2 feet, which would be greater than the highest recorded total of 17 feet. The rain has stopped, but flood risk continues, the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management wrote on Twitter.

ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

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