Rahway

NJ Homes Explodes Hours After Flood Evacuation; 4 Clinging to Tree Saved by Boat

At least 23 storm-related deaths have been confirmed in New Jersey in addition to the 13 reported in New York City; more than 70 people in the town of Rahway had to flee their homes and one house exploded

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A house in New Jersey exploded less than five hours after it was evacuated early Thursday amid flooding wrought by Ida, damaging multiple homes nearby but mercifully seriously injuring no one, officials in Rahway said.

Photos from the scene showed the River Road home reduced to total rubble after the blast. A cause is under investigation but no one had been inside at the time because of the flood-related evacuation. Three or four homes in the area were damaged, and one man passing by in a car suffered minor injuries.

The Rahway fire and police departments responded, along with Elizabeth Town Gas. The investigation is described as active and ongoing.

The same Union County community was particularly hard-hit by Ida's floods. Rahway police say 72 residents were told to flee their homes and are now staying at a local elementary school for relief.

Four people clinging to a tree amid rising floodwaters were rescued by boat. All were treated at the scene and were expected to be OK.

A house in New Jersey exploded less than five hours after it was evacuated early Thursday amid flooding wrought by Ida, damaging multiple homes nearby but mercifully seriously injuring no one, officials in Rahway said. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.

Another unoccupied house, on Beaver Place, collapsed due to flooding, while at least three partial collapses -- a bridge on Irving Street and two basement walls on Jefferson Avenue -- were reported.

More than 100 cars had to be towed and cops were still working to recover vehicles late Thursday morning.

Dozens of water rescues were reported not far away in Newark, which saw its wettest day in history -- nearly 8.5 inches -- amid the storm. Check the latest rainfall totals for your neighborhood here and get complete updates on the recovery here.

Over in Somerset County, several homes inundated with floodwaters in Manville were on fire Thursday afternoon from apparent explosions. Practically the entire borough, a population over 10,000, was underwater.

Meagan Dommar says her home was one of the very homes Chopper 4 flew over in the afternoon. All that's left is a little island of debris after the roof and second floor exploded.

"They think it might have been caused when the stove tipped over and broke the gas line," Dommar said.

Nearby another two homes caught fire despite all the water surrounding them -- the flooding making it impossible for firefighters to tackle the flames.

At least 38 Ida-related deaths have been confirmed in New York (15) and New Jersey (23 so far, and officials fear more may be added to the toll.

NBC New York's Marc Santia reports.
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