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
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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.

8:05 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Most of NJ Transit rail service is still suspended

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Transit officials said that all NJ Transit rail service is suspended this morning, except for the Atlantic City Rail Line, in the wake of mass flooding due to remnants of Ida.

The suspension includes the Newark Light Rail. 

7:27 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

A climate expert explains the link between Ida and climate change

From CNN’s Angela Dewan

Scientists can now work out just how much of a role human-made climate change has played in an extreme weather event.

Fires in western US states and Canada, for example, were virtually impossible without climate change, which worsened heat and drought conditions. It’s too early to estimate the role of climate change on the current heavy rainfall we’re seeing in the northeastern United States, but past attribution studies on hurricanes leave little doubt that there's a link.

Friederike Otto, who co-leads the World Weather Attribution project, said that natural weather variability can’t explain the increase in the number of major hurricanes we’ve seen in recent decades. In other words, she is confident that human-made climate change is playing a role in this trend.

“Specifically, from event attribution, we do note that when hurricanes occur, the rainfall associated with them is more intense because of human-induced climate change, and Ida will not be an exception,” Otto told CNN.

While there is less certainty about the impacts of climate change on wind speed and some other factors, scientists have a high confidence level that hurricanes are slowing down in pace. 

“This is important, as it means the cyclones hang around for longer and thus can also cause more damage,“ Otto said. “In short, the characteristics of hurricanes are changing. For some aspects -- in particular associated rain and translation speed -- we know that climate change is an important driver.”

Read more about hurricanes here.

8:05 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Entergy customers in Baton Rouge could have power by next week

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Entergy Louisiana said customers in Baton Rouge could have their power restored by Sept. 8, according to a tweet from the company.

The area was hit hard by Hurricane Ida over the weekend, and much of the region has been in the dark since. More than 899,600 customers are still without power in the state, according to PowerOutages.US.

8:05 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

People packed Times Square subway station overnight as trains haven't moved since yesterday

The lights of Times Square in New York are reflected in standing water on September 2.
The lights of Times Square in New York are reflected in standing water on September 2. Craig Ruttle/AP

Yesterday's excessive rainfall in New York City left people stranded at subway stations overnight as the streets became dangerously flooded and trains remained stuck at stops.

A train has been standing at the Times Square subway station since 9:45 p.m. local time Wednesday night. As a result, there are people at the station who have been there ever since, unable to leave, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz reported.

People slept on benches, sat on staircases, did not eat, and just waited the night out, he said.

"I talked to a woman earlier, who said she was starving. She was afraid to leave the subway station because she was afraid she was going to miss her train. So she was afraid to leave, afraid to get water. Finally, she left. And I told her, 'stores are open. You can go outside and you can come back in.' So she left and she never came back," Prokupecz said.

Earlier, many of the people at the station were commuters trying to return home from the office on Wednesday, but in the last hour, a stream of hopeful travelers are now trickling in, trying to get to work for the day ahead.

"They run to the train only to be told, well, this train is not going anywhere," Prokupecz added.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz reports:

6:45 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Morning Amtrak services between Philadelphia and Boston canceled due to severe weather

From CNN's Alta Spells

More service disruptions are being reported by Amtrak, following the unprecedented and dangerous weather conditions in the northeastern United States.

The passenger rail company says that all services between Philadelphia and Boston prior to 9 a.m. ET this morning have been canceled because of "severe weather with significant rainfall along the Northeast Corridor."