Photos: More than 25 deaths after Ida remnants slam Northeast

Weather News
  • An American flag floats in a puddle of flood water in Myrtle Grove, La. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
  • A motorist drives a car through a flooded expressway in Brooklyn, New York early on September 2, 2021, as flash flooding and record-breaking rainfall brought by the remnants of Storm Ida swept through the area. (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
  • A ship that was washed ashore during Hurricane Ida is seen in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner has pleaded for help for residents of the small town, which is roughly 20 miles south of New Orleans. Many stores remain closed and services suspended as power throughout New Orleans and its surrounding region is down. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
  • Rainfall from Hurricane Ida floods the basement of a Kennedy Fried Chicken in the Bronx borough of New York City. The once category 4 hurricane passed through New York City, dumping 3.15 inches of rain in the span of an hour at Central Park. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
  • Jareth Palmisano passes over a vehicle in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner has pleaded for help for residents of the small town, which is roughly 20 miles south of New Orleans. Many stores remain closed and services suspended as power throughout New Orleans and its surrounding region is down. Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on August 29 in Louisiana and brought flooding and wind damage along the Gulf Coast. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
  • Overturned boats in Lafitte, La., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • A twisted tower that carried crucial electrical feeder lines to the New Orleans metro area lies collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Bridge City, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • Floodwater surrounds vehicles following heavy rain on an expressway in Brooklyn, New York as flash flooding and record-breaking rainfall brought by the remnants of Storm Ida swept through the area. (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
  • A ship washed ashore is seen in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana.(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
  • A motorist passes under a storm damaged utility line on September 1, 2021 in Hammond, Louisiana.(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
  • Floodwater surrounds a house in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
  • Jareth Palmisano steers a boat through the Jean Lafitte Harbor in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
  • People wait in line to have their gas cans filled in Maurepas, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
  • Russell Threeton, a strawberry farmer, walks through floodwater after Hurricane Ida in Springfield, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
  • A person walks in floodwaters in Philadelphia in the aftermath of downpours and high winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ida that hit the area. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
  • Vehicles are under water during flooding in Philadelphia in the aftermath of downpours and high winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ida that hit the area. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
  • Pedestrians take cover near Columbus Circle in New York as the remnants of Hurricane Ida remained powerful while moving along the Eastern seaboard. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
  • Flooding in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia in the aftermath of downpours and high winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ida that hit the area. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
  • Floodwaters slowly recede in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Lafitte, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • In this image taken from video provided by Scott Smith, a fast-moving tornado is seen in the distance through a windshield just before the toll booth for the Burlington Bristol Bridge on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Burlington, N.J. (Scott Smith via AP)
  • A home which was damaged by a possible tornado is seen in Harrison Township, N.J.. The remnants of hurricane Ida brought heavy rains and possible tornadoes to the area (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
  • Barges washed ashore in St. Charles Parish, La. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
  • Flood damaged above-ground tombs at a graveyard in Lafitte, La. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  • Flood damaged buildings and boats in Lafitte, La. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  • Damaged barges in St. Charles Parish, La. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
  • Floodwater slowly recedes in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Lafitte, La., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • Josh Montford carries taxidermy deer heads from his flood damaged home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Jean Lafitte, La. (AP Photo/John Locher)

NEW YORK (AP) — A stunned U.S. East Coast faced a rising death toll, surging rivers, tornado damage and continuing calls for rescue Thursday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida walloped the region with record-breaking rain, filling low-lying apartments with water and turning roads into car-swallowing canals.

In a region that had been warned about potentially deadly flash flooding but hadn’t braced for such a blow from the no-longer-hurricane, the storm killed at least 26 people from Maryland to New York on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

At least 12 people died in New York City, police said, one of them in a car and eight in flooded basement apartments that often serve as relatively affordable homes in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets. Officials said at least eight died in New Jersey and three in Pennsylvania’s suburban Montgomery County; one was killed by a falling tree, one drowned in a car and another in a home. An on-duty state trooper in Connecticut was swept away in his cruiser and later taken to a hospital, state police and local authorities said.

In New York City, Deborah Torres said water rapidly filled her first-floor Queens apartment to her knees as her landlord frantically urged her neighbors below — who included a baby — to get out, she said. But the water was rushing in so strongly that she surmised they weren’t able to open the door. The three residents died.

“I have no words,” she said. “How can something like this happen?”

Ida’s remnants lost most of the storm’s winds but kept its soggy core, then merged with a more traditional storm front and dropped an onslaught of rain on the Interstate 95 corridor, meteorologists said. The situation has followed hurricanes before, but experts said it was slightly exacerbated by climate change — warmer air holds more rain — and urban settings, where expansive pavement prevents water from seeping into the ground.

The National Hurricane Center had warned since Tuesday of the potential for “significant and life-threatening flash flooding” and moderate and major river flooding in the mid-Atlantic region and New England.

Still, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the storm’s strength took them by surprise.

“We did not know that between 8:50 and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls level of water to the streets of New York,” said Hochul, a Democrat who became governor last week after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned.

De Blasio, also a Democrat, said he’d gotten a forecast Wednesday of 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) of rain over the course of the day. The city’s Central Park ended up getting 3.15 inches just in one hour, surpassing the previous recorded high of 1.94 inches (5 cm) in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on Aug. 21.

The storm ultimately dumped over 9 inches (23 cm) of rain in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and nearly as much on New York City’s Staten Island.

In Washington, President Joe Biden assured Northeast residents that federal first responders were on the ground to help clean up.

In the nation’s most populous city, some highways flooded, garbage bobbed in water rushing down the streets and water cascaded into the city’s subway tunnels, trapping at least 17 trains and forcing the cancelation of service throughout the night and early morning. Videos online showed riders standing on seats in cars filled with water. All riders were evacuated safely, officials said.

At one Queens development, water filled the sunken patio of a basement apartment, then broke through a glass door and rushed in, trapping a 48-year-old woman in 6 feet (2 meters) of water. Neighbors unsuccessfully tried for an hour to save her.

“She was screaming, ‘Help me, help me, help me!’ We all came to her aid, trying to get her out. But it was so strong – the thrust of the water was so strong,” said the building’s assistant superintendent, Jayson Jordan.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, near Newark Airport, four people died and 600 were left homeless from rain and river flooding in an apartment complex, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage said.

Neighbors described hearing screaming from the complex at about 11 p.m. as water flowed down the street, pushing dumpsters and cars around.

“Sandy had nothing on this,” resident Jennifer Vilchez said, referring to 2012′s Superstorm Sandy.

Greg Turner, who lives in another part of the city, said his 87-year-old mother started calling 911 from the complex at 8 p.m. when the water started rising in her apartment. He said he and his brother tried to rush to her rescue, but the water was too high.

By close to midnight, the water was up to her neck, he said. Rescuers finally were able to cut through the floor of the apartment above and pull her to safety.

“She lost everything,” Turner said as he headed to a bank to get money to buy his mother some clothes and shoes.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, flooding killed two people in Hillsborough, two in Bridgewater, and one in Milford Borough, where authorities found a man’s body a car buried up to its hood in dirt and rocks, authorities said.

The ferocious storm also spawned tornadoes, including one that ripped apart homes and toppled silos in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, south of Philadelphia.

Resident Ashley Thomas, her husband and their two young children rushed to their basement after hearing sirens. But after waiting for 15 minutes with debris falling on them, they bolted to the yard, said Thomas, 37. She broke several toes and has a bruise on her shoulder but was grateful her family and neighbors survived.

Record flooding along the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania inundated homes and commercial buildings, swamped highways, submerged cars and disrupted rail service in the Philadelphia area. In a tweet, city officials predicted “historic flooding” on Thursday as river levels continue to rise. The riverside community of Manayunk remained largely under water.

The Schuyilkill reached levels not seen in over 100 years in Philadelphia, where firefighters were still getting calls about minor building collapses and people stuck in flooded cars Thursday morning, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.

Heavy winds and drenching rains punched a hole in the roof of a U.S. Postal Service building in New Jersey. Rain rushed through a terminal at Newark International Airport Wednesday and threatened to overrun a dam in Pennsylvania. Meteorologists warned that rivers likely won’t crest for a few more days, raising the possibility of more widespread flooding.

Rescues took place all over New York City as its 8.8 million people saw much worse flooding than from Henri, which was followed by two weeks of wild and sometimes deadly weather across the nation. Wildfires are threatening Lake Tahoe, Tropical Storm Henri struck the Northeast and Ida struck Louisiana as the fifth-strongest storm to ever hit the U.S. mainland, leaving 1 million people without power, maybe for weeks.

A flash flood warning continued into Thursday in New England. Authorities used boats to rescue 18 people from a flooded neighborhood in Plainville, Connecticut, and 15 people — including one who uses a wheelchair — from a flooded complex in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. A road in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, crumbled.

Parts of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where 2,200 people died after an infamous dam failure in 1889, were evacuated for a time Wednesday after water reached dangerous levels at a dam near the city. An official said later Wednesday that the water levels near the dam were receding.

In Frederick County, Maryland, first responders used a boat to rescue 10 children and a driver from a school bus caught in rising flood waters. The county’s school superintendent apologized for not dismissing students earlier, The Frederick News-Post reported.

The Atlantic hurricane season is far from over. Larry became a hurricane Thursday morning, forecast to rapidly intensify into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm by Sunday. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said it’s moving west but remains far from any coast.

___

Porter reported from Elizabeth, New Jersey. AP reporters Bobby Caina Calvan, Karen Matthews and Jennifer Peltz in New York City; Maryclaire Dale in Mullica Hill, New Jersey; Seth Borenstein and Darlene Superville in Washington; Michael Catalini and Shawn Marsh in Trenton, New Jersey; Wayne Parry in Point Pleasant, New Jersey; Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia and Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

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