Ida triggers massive flooding across Northeast

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Joshua Berlinger, Amy Woodyatt, Aditi Sangal, Adam Renton and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 AM ET, Fri September 3, 2021
40 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:29 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Parts of Passaic, New Jersey, saw up to 8 feet of water on Wednesday, mayor says

Passaic, New Jersey, is reeling from the aftermath of excessive rainfall on Wednesday. Parts of the town saw up to eight feet of water, Mayor Hector Lora told CNN on Thursday.

"In the area where we unfortunately experienced a loss of life — I must say our prayers and support go out to the family of this individual — that area had over six feet of water. The fire department and police had to call off efforts because our fire truck literally got stuck in the road. We had ambulances stuck on the road. There were areas in our city where we saw up to eight feet of water," he said.

Apart from one storm-related death, authorities are also investigating reports of two young adults who may have been swept into the river, Lora said.

"We presently have two individuals, who are reported, they may have been swept in the river. We have 60 individuals that we evacuated from our downtown area because of the potential of the river, which crested last night and came over the banks," he said. "We will be tallying up throughout the day and trying to make sure that every individual is accounted for."

He urged residents should stay home and off the roads.

"Obviously vehicles can be repaired. Property can be replaced but loss of life cannot be returned," he said. "Nothing can be more important than your life."

The current efforts are also focused on cleaning up roads and drains, but Lora emphasized that the impact of this storm could not have been anticipated.

"No one could predict the impact that this storm would have with such intense rain, all coming down so quickly. It truly devastated areas around our state and specifically, here in the city of Passaic," the mayor said.

Watch:

8:24 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

FEMA head: "We're still not out of the woods" with Ida

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said she briefed President Biden’s team this morning on the effects from Ida as the storm caused major flooding in the Northeast. 

“We were expecting some significant rain to come from Ida as it traveled across the Northeast, but we just couldn't tell where it would end up landing until it got closer to the area. We were thinking that there would be potential for rain in Tennessee and West Virginia. They didn't seem to get as much. But as it continued to move east, we saw Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York get a big portion of the impacts from Ida. We knew that there was going to be a significant amount of rain, just where it was going to land was what we needed to wait till it got closer to landfall to see,” she said. 

She said FEMA teams will be surveying damage and assisting with any long-term recovery efforts.  

“Ida is going to continue. She's been leaving her track across the country, and so we're still not out of the woods. We're still seeing some impacts up in the New England area,” Criswell said. 

8:26 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

New York City "has been paralyzed" by flooding, governor says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during her swearing-in ceremony at the New York State Capitol in Albany on August 24.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during her swearing-in ceremony at the New York State Capitol in Albany on August 24. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that the "unprecedented" rainfall from the remnants of Ida caused New York City to become "paralyzed," and she encouraged residents to stay home and check on loved ones.

"This has been absolutely stunning on a scale, people were just caught off guard and so shocked. The residents who thought they would safely be able to go down to their basements or take the trains that all of a sudden just, this absolutely unprecedented storm event changed everything. And New York City literally has been paralyzed," Hochul said to CNN.

New York declared a state of emergency early Thursday morning and a travel ban was implemented in New York City until 5 a.m. ET, according to an emergency alert sent by Notify NYC. 

Central Park saw nearly 7 inches of rain on Wednesday, with the first-ever flash flood emergency issued for the city.

New York City and state workers are restoring power and transit lines.

"There’s going to be a massive cleanup. But I will continue to urge people to stay home. Check on your neighbors. Give everybody a call. Make sure they're OK, because people are just stunned by what happened last night," Hochul said.

Hochul declared a state of emergency last night. She will be surveying the damage from the storm today, she said.

Hochul became the state's first female governor on Aug. 24 after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid multiple scandals.

Watch:

8:19 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

More than 1.17 million customers left without power as Ida marches from Gulf to the Northeast 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Downed power lines are seen in Metairie, Louisiana, on August 30.
Downed power lines are seen in Metairie, Louisiana, on August 30. Steve Helber/AP

Roughly 1,178,680 customers are without power from Hurricane Ida and the remnants as they passed through the eastern part of the country, according to PowerOutage.us.

Here's a look at the impacted states:

  • Louisiana – 901,637 customers
  • Mississippi – 37,498 customers
  • Virginia – 1,342 customers
  • West Virginia – 2,343 customers
  • Maryland – 5,665 customers
  • Delaware – 474 customers
  • Pennsylvania – 98,482 customers
  • New Jersey – 60,562 customers
  • New York – 42,162 customers
  • Connecticut – 18,749 customers
  • Massachusetts – 8,634 customers
  • Rhode Island – 1,132 customers

If you are in one of the impacted areas, here are some tips for how to safely use a generator.

8:06 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

United Airlines suspending operations at major Newark hub following flooding

From CNN's Pete Muntean

United Airlines says it is suspending operations at its major Newark hub following last night’s flooding. 

“Due to severe flooding in and around Newark Liberty Airport, we are temporarily suspending operations,��� the airline said in a statement to CNN. 

Flight tracking site FlightAware shows 190 canceled Newark flights, the most flight cancellations in the United States right now.

“We encourage customers with travel plans to, from, or through Newark Liberty Airport to check United.com or the United app for flight status before heading to the airport,” the airline said.

8:04 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

At least 9 people killed in the storm in New York and New Jersey

From CNN's Mark Morales

There have been at least 9 storm related deaths in New York and New Jersey as Ida battered the Northeast.

A New York Police Department spokesperson told CNN an 86-year-woman, who lived in Corona, Queens, was found in the basement by her son just before midnight last night. Seven other weather related deaths were previously reported to CNN by the NYPD in various boroughs of New York City.

In Passaic, New Jersey, Mayor Hector Lora told CNN's Don Lemon that the body of an elderly man in his 70s was retrieved from floodwaters after the vehicle he was riding in was overtaken by water and firefighters were swept under the vehicle making it nearly "impossible" for them to reach him.

CNN's Alta Spells contributed reporting to this post.

8:30 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Climate change will make catastrophic storms more frequent, Queens president says

People and cars are on a street flooded by heavy rain in Queens, New York, on September 1.
People and cars are on a street flooded by heavy rain in Queens, New York, on September 1. Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The President of New York City's Queens Borough Donovan Richards blamed climate change for the intensity of the excessive rainfall on Wednesday.

"These catastrophic storms are going to be more frequent as we move forward based on what we know all too well that climate change is going to continue to [rear] its ugly head," he told CNN.

The state of emergency issued overnight is not enough and the federal government needs to step up on its action against climate change, he added.

"We don't have time to whittle our thumbs here. We're running up against the clock. The clock is already ticking. We're here. If we don't move aggressively to combat climate change, we're going to continue to lose life unfortunately. And the city, state and federal government will continue to pay out a lot of dollars to fix many of the issues that happen as we see this more frequent storms occur," he said.

Richards said he has spoken with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about the situation this morning.

While the focus remains on cleaning up roads and safety, residents should stay home, he said.

"We urge every resident, who is nonessential, to stay home, to stay off the roads. And I hope employers are going to allow their workers to work remotely if they don't have to come into the office. But the big focus is clean up right now and safety," he said Thursday.

8:43 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Wednesday was "a heck of a night," NJ governor says — and the state is not yet out of the woods

From CNN's Mirna Alsharif

Highway 440 is flooded in Jersey City, New Jersey, on September 2.
Highway 440 is flooded in Jersey City, New Jersey, on September 2. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Wednesday "a heck of a night" and said that the state is still not yet out of the woods when it comes to remnants of Ida.

"Tornadoes touching down, as your reporters said, severe flooding, sadly, loss of life," said Murphy to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on Thursday. "We just would beg folks to stay off the roads, stay home if you can right now because we have a lot of trees to clean up, a lot of roads to clear up with stranded vehicles."

Murphy said he'll be visiting towns hit by tornadoes on Thursday morning where there is "significant home damage, significant tree damage" to assess the extent of the damage.

"There's a lot of hurt right now in New Jersey and we're going to be there for folks. It's going to be a long road to recovery but we're going to be there with them."

Climate change in real time: Murphy also said that the tropical storm is a reminder that extreme weather conditions are happening more frequently and intensely.

"New Jersey is probably the most exposed state in the country to climate change, and we are the most densely populated," he said. "Our resiliency, I'd say not just as a state, but as a country, we got to turn up--we got to turn it up."

Murphy also provided an update on Newark Airport saying "it's going to take time till they're fully back on their feet."

"NJ Transit similarly basically got no rail service at the moment, with the exception of the Atlantic City line," said Murphy. "Bus service is intermittent at best."

"It's going to be a long road and we're going to be there for folks," he said.

7:51 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Rescues from about 20 subway trains took place overnight during “regional emergency”

From CNN's Mark Morales

Rescues from between 15 and 20 subway trains took place overnight after a “regional emergency” has “hit the entire transportation system,” according to the head of New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The subway system flooded in 46 locations, and crews continue to inspect infrastructure and work on drain rainfall, the MTA said in a statement at 4:15 a.m. ET.

Janno Lieber, the acting chair and CEO of the MTA, told CNN that roughly 15-20 subway trains were stranded during the “historic rainfall,” and emergency teams rescued individuals over several hours.

Hundreds of trains were operating in the subway as “one-hour historic rainfall overtook everybody,” Lieber said to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

The rescues were done successfully with no injuries, Lieber said, and they "took a couple of hours" in tandem with FDNY and NYPD.

The most important thing is we did get people out safely,” he said, adding that the situation was a “regional emergency that’s hit the entire transportation system.”

Approximately 65 buses were blocked or stuck, but all passengers were cleared, the MTA said.

Continued disruption: Lieber said “we’re bringing service up” on the MTA, and a number of lines already have been restored.

Commuter rail lines are operating with extremely limited service due to “major power issues” and “mudslides.” Lieber is discouraging commuters from traveling on those lines.

Metro North will be out “most of the day.”
The LIRR is “constrained” as well.
The MTA will normalize toward the end of the day.

Long Island Rail Road, which services transit to Manhattan, is expected to have delays and cancellations. Service is suspended between the transport hub in Queens and Atlantic Terminal as crews are on scene to pump water.

Customers from two stranded Metro North trains have been rescued. Officials are assessing the system and working to restore service as quickly as possible.