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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12:04 p.m. ET, September 2, 2021

We knew flooding was coming — but we didn't know it would be to this extent

From CNN meteorologist Judson Jones

Cars are abandoned on a flooded expressway in Brooklyn, New York, on September 2.
Cars are abandoned on a flooded expressway in Brooklyn, New York, on September 2. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Yes, we knew Ida was taking aim at the Northeast. Yes, we knew there would be deadly flash flooding in the Northeast. Yes, there was an outlook issued by the Weather Prediction Center that predicted this. Yes, there was a flash flood watch issued ahead of time. Yes, there were flash flood emergencies issued.

And yet, we all were a bit stunned.

"Did we know bad flooding was coming? Yes absolutely. Did we think NYC would literally be UNDERWATER? No, I don’t think so — at least not to THIS extent," said CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller, who covered the storm all night long.

It wasn't all about the total amount of rain. It was the amount of rainfall within such a small time frame which made the situation that much worse. Ida unleashed a 1 in 500-year rainfall event in just a few hours.

In three hours, 5.2 inches fell from the skies. In one hour, Central Park recorded its wettest hour on record with 3.15 inches from 8:51 to 9:51 p.m. ET. These weather records have been kept in Central Park since 1889.

You may remember that this record was just set less than two weeks ago, the evening of the "We Love NYC" concert, when almost 2 inches fell in one hour.

When you have this much rainfall, places are going to flood in that short amount of time.

Stay updated on extreme weather: Sign up for email alerts from CNN meteorologists and reporters in the field.

11:52 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Mayor of New York town says "hundreds" of people had to be rescued from flooding

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

First responders pull residents in a boat as they rescue people trapped by floodwaters in Mamaroneck, New York, on September 2.
First responders pull residents in a boat as they rescue people trapped by floodwaters in Mamaroneck, New York, on September 2. (Frank Becerra Jr/The Journal News/USA Today Network)

The mayor of Mamaroneck, New York, said that "hundreds" of rescues have taken place in his community because of dangerous flooding.

Mayor Tom Murphy said search-and-rescue efforts are focused in one low-lying neighborhood at the confluence of two rivers. The Westchester County town, a suburb of New York City, has a population of about 30,000.

He said "scores" of people still need to be rescued, and advised residents to stay off the roads. He's "hopeful" that Gov. Kathy Hochul will send the National Guard to assist.

"Some areas we couldn't get the equipment in to get people out of the second floor of their homes, because the first floor was inundated," Murphy said.

"There are parts of the village that never ever saw flooding, people never got water in their basements before, but their basement filled up last night. It was a very precarious evening," he told CNN's Kate Bolduan.

Murphy said his town was supposed to get an Army Corps of Engineers plan "for at least 10 years now." 

"The plan was developed and it was going to be implemented, but it got killed in the last administration in Washington. So I'm hoping that we could revive that plan under the Biden administration and really get some relief for our residents. You know, many of our residents have suffered through this for years, and they have kind of a PTSD every time they get intense rain ... I don't blame them. A lot of people lost everything they have," Murphy said.  

11:33 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

NJ and NY leaders express urgency to address infrastructure after historic, deadly flooding

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Commuters walk into a flooded subway station in New York on September 2.
Commuters walk into a flooded subway station in New York on September 2. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

The governors of New York and New Jersey said improvements in infrastructure are needed after areas of the states experienced widespread, deadly flooding that upended transit systems. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said officials need to look ahead to anticipate storms as the climate crisis produces stronger storms.

“As it relates to our infrastructure, our resiliency, our whole mindset, the playbook that we use, we’ve got to leap forward and get out of ahead of this. Any infrastructure money we get, I bet you a lot of it will be put into resilient infrastructure, because that is what you need when you're the most densely populated state in the nation … I think any amount of investment we could make in the years ahead in resilient infrastructure will be investment that will help us,” he said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said there need to be investments in infrastructure so the city and surrounding areas are better equipped to handle flooding. 

“This is the first time we've had a flash-flood event on this proportion in the city of New York and in the outlying areas. We haven’t experienced this before but we should expect it next time, and that means we have to continue investments in infrastructure, working in partnership with our federal government,” she said. 

“I don’t want this to happen again,” she added. 

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer also underscored the need for “resilient infrastructure.”

“Global warming is upon us, and it’s going to get worse and worse and worse unless we do something about it,” the Senate majority leader said, calling for Congress to pass both the infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills.

“The second deals with climate change and will reduce the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere by 50% by 2030. The first bill deals with infrastructure, and built into that infrastructure is something they have started fostering with [Superstorm] Sandy — that we don't just build infrastructure, but we built resilient infrastructure, so when these floods or fires or anything else occurs, they are much more resistant,” he said. 

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said more people will die if improvements in infrastructure are not addressed to combat climate change.

“Queens needs to see much more infrastructure investment. We cannot wait until tomorrow. We need it today. These lives could have been saved if we had investment that we sorely needed a long time ago,” he said.

“If we do not address climate change, we will continue to lose lives” across the borough and state, Richards added.

CNN's Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this post.

11:20 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

New Jersey governor sending major disaster declaration to FEMA

From CNN’s Mirna Alsharif

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy visited the tornado-damaged Mullica Hill neighborhood in Harrison Township on Thursday morning where he also spoke to media.

Strong winds could be heard while Murphy looked at homes, some of which sustained extreme damage as a result of a tornadoes brought on by Tropical Storm Ida.  

"An extraordinary, sadly tragic, historic 24 hours in New Jersey, there's no other way to put it," said Murphy. "Look on either side of us right now and the impact of these tornadoes that touched down in this county."

Murphy also said he will send in a major disaster declaration request to FEMA on Thursday

"I will speak shortly with the President and reiterate that and thank him for his support and help," said Murphy. "And that will be a gamechanger, is that is accorded, in terms of our ability to get individuals, families, businesses, and our infrastructures, and the clean-up back to where it should be."

Murphy mentioned that there were fatalities, not in Mullica Hill, but in the central and northern parts of the state. He didn't provide any details on the deaths. 

The state will provide information about resources for residents that have been affected by the storm, and the aid will be from a combination of state, federal, and third party agencies like the Red Cross, Murphy said.

"We're with you," said Murphy. "This won't be overnight by the way, this is going to be a longer road than any of us would like but we will not relent and we will stay with it every step of the way." 

11:08 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

At least 11 dead along the East Coast following storm's flooding 

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

There have been at least 11 deaths in Maryland, New York and New Jersey in the wake of storm flooding.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed 9 deaths.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy cited multiple fatalities, without specifying numbers, however CNN has already reported 1 death on record from local authorities

An additional death in Maryland is being preliminary referenced as a storm related death, though the autopsy is pending.

 ##NY#

11:15 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

New York governor: President Biden "guarantees" support following massive flooding damage

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

(WABC)
(WABC)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, appearing side by side with New York City officials, said she spoke with President Biden today who “guaranteed” full support in the wake of a “devastating” and “record-shattering” storm.

“This is the first time we’ve had a flash flood event of this proportion,” she said.

“We should expect it the next time,” she said.

The governor added that the human loss is “hard to imagine.”

For a state that experienced the devastating shore effects of Sandy, Hochul said that this time around, “where we had a vulnerability is in our streets."

The governor noted that the draining systems need to be enhanced and infrastructure investments are paramount.

“I don’t want this to happen again,” Hochul said.

More than 100 people were rescued in Rockland and Westchester county alone, she said.

The two leaders – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the governor – appearing side by side, is a rare site for New Yorkers who had often seen former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio compete in dueling news conferences

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed to get all the federal aid that’s needed.

The New York officials spoke at the site where two individuals died in Queens after a partial wall collapsed

11:23 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

New York City mayor in the storm's aftermath: "People are going through hell"

(WABC)
(WABC)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the deadly flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida a "wake-up call" and said officials need to alter the way they approach the "suddenness, the brutality of storms now."

De Blasio referenced the back-to-back storms — first the rain dumped less than two weeks ago by Henri and now the flooding from Ida — the city has endured.

"This is the biggest wake-up call we could possibly get. We're going to have do a lot of things differently and quickly," he said. "What we have to recognize is the suddenness, the brutality of storms now. It is different."

De Blasio called Ida a "horrifying storm last night, unlike anything we have seen before," and he thanked the first responders who rescued people yesterday. He also acknowledged the rescue and clean up work still to be done.

"People are going through hell," he said. "They need help."

11:10 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

Two-thirds of gas stations in New Orleans and Baton Rouge don't have gas

From CNN's Matt Egan

Motorists wait in line for gas in New Orleans on August 31.
Motorists wait in line for gas in New Orleans on August 31. (Eric Gay/AP)

Gas station outages are mounting in Louisiana’s two biggest cities as the region struggles to recover from Hurricane Ida.

As of Thursday morning, a staggering 65.8% of the gas stations in Baton Rouge and 65.2% in New Orleans don’t have gas, according to outage reports compiled by GasBuddy. About one-third (33.7%) of the gas stations in Lafayette are similarly dry.

All of these figures are slightly higher than GasBuddy’s last update late Wednesday afternoon.

Analysts said these gas station outages are being driven by a combination of spiking demand as people drive around out of the region, and supply headaches caused by power outages. For example, tanker truck drivers often can’t fill up if there is no power at terminal racks that dispense fuel at refineries.

“No power, no gas. And that extends beyond the gas stations to petroleum terminals. It’s not just gravity that dispenses the gasoline,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

Drivers who find gas stations with fuel face very long lines that can last eight or nine hours. But industry executives urged residents to resist the urge to panic buy.

“This is not the time to hoard fuel and fill up every car and any available gas can or container,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives at the National Association of Convenience Stores. “The system is currently stressed and will recover more quickly with normal buying patterns.”

Meanwhile, prices at the pump continue to creep higher. The national average hit $3.183 on Thursday, up from $3.146 a week ago, according to AAA.

10:51 a.m. ET, September 2, 2021

NOW: New York governor and New York City mayor give update on deadly flooding

From CNN's Jennifer Gray, Brandon Miller and Taylor Ward

(State of New York)
(State of New York)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are giving an update on the massive flooding that hit the state overnight.

A state of emergency was declared early Thursday morning as the Northeast region was slammed by torrential rain from the remnants of Ida, causing heavy flooding and reports of numerous water rescues.

In New York City, a travel ban was implemented until 5 a.m. ET, according to an emergency alert sent by Notify NYC. All non-emergency vehicles must stay off the road, the alert said.

Almost all the city subway lines were suspended due to flooding. The Metropolitan Transit Authority website said that only the "7" line and the Staten Island Railway were operating, with delays.

Rescuers have been removing people from flooded roadways and subways across New York City, the New York Fire Department said Thursday morning.