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New York City Declares State of Emergency Amid Severe Flash Flooding

A state of emergency has been officially declared in New York City in response to the relentless deluge of rain causing widespread flash flooding. The city’s transportation systems, streets, and highways have succumbed to floodwaters, and even one terminal at LaGuardia Airport had to temporarily shut down before resuming operations.

The city saw a staggering 8 inches (20 cm) of rainfall in certain areas, although the situation had somewhat improved by the evening. Governor Kathy Hochul expressed grave concerns about the situation, referring to it as a “dangerous, life-threatening storm.” She took to X, previously known as Twitter, to announce the state of emergency, encompassing New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley. Governor Hochul urged residents to prioritize safety and refrain from attempting to navigate flooded roads.

Thankfully, no fatalities or critical injuries have been reported thus far. A state of emergency was also declared in Hoboken, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City.

Mayor Eric Adams of New York City cautioned residents to remain vigilant and exercise extreme caution during this period of heightened alertness. He emphasized the challenges posed by flooded subways, making movement throughout the city extremely difficult.

By Friday evening, Mr. Adams reported 15 vehicle rescues and three rescues from basement apartments. Despite a respite in the rainfall, Governor Hochul stressed that the situation was far from over and expressed concerns about people venturing out in their vehicles during a temporary lull.

The flooding wreaked havoc on New York’s subway system and the Metro North commuter rail service, leading to widespread disruptions. Some subway lines were entirely suspended, and numerous stations had to be closed. In Mamaroneck, a suburb north of the city in Westchester County, emergency responders utilized inflatable rafts to rescue individuals trapped by rising floodwaters.

Images and videos circulated on social media depicted people wading through knee-deep water, with streets and subways inundated by heavy rain. Several videos also showed water cascading from subway station ceilings and walls onto submerged platforms.

In Brooklyn Navy Yard, over 2.5 inches of rain fell within one hour, a rate beyond the city’s sewage system’s capacity, as explained by New York’s chief climate officer, Rohit Aggarwala. South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, saw workers navigating knee-high water while attempting to clear clogged drains amidst floating debris.

Kelly Hayes, a Gowanus neighborhood resident, estimated flood-related damages to her bar and kitchen to be between $25,000 and $30,000 (£20,500-$24,500).

LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal A was temporarily closed due to flooding, with authorities advising passengers to check with their airlines before traveling. The New York Police Department announced multiple road closures, and the National Guard was deployed to assist.

Elsewhere, traffic came to a standstill as water levels exceeded car tires along a stretch of the FDR Drive, a major road along Manhattan’s east side. This September has become the wettest in New York City since 1882, with nearly 14 inches of rain recorded, according to data from the National Weather Service.