Storm Team 4

NYC Death Toll Rises to 13, 23 Dead in NJ as Ida Devastates Region With Historic Floods

Thirteen of the deaths were in New York City, including a 2-year-old boy, while 23 were confirmed in New Jersey, including at least four in Elizabeth; the names of the victims are beginning to be released

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What to Know

  • The remnants of Hurricane Ida turned major highways into streams, flooded subways and streets and triggered states of emergency in New York and New Jersey; at least 38 people have died locally
  • Thirteen of the deaths were in NYC, including a 2-year-old boy, while 23 were confirmed in New Jersey; it was the wettest day in history for Newark and Central Park saw its rainiest hour ever
  • Much of NYC subway and NJ Transit train service remains suspended or significantly delayed heading into Thursday night

At least 39 people died, including a New York City toddler, and tens of thousands were overwhelmed by floods as the remnants of Hurricane Ida devastated the tri-state area overnight with historic rainfall, at least one tornado and savage winds.

The grim tolls have only increased over the course of the day Thursday and are expected to climb further as emergency crews navigate flooded homes and cars.

Thirteen of the confirmed fatalities were in Brooklyn and Queens and included a 2-year-old boy, 43-, 86- and 48-year-old women and 50-, 66- and 22-year-old men. Another three deaths were confirmed Thursday afternoon in Flushing, the same neighborhood where the toddler and his parents were found dead, officials said.

Two women and a man were discovered dead in the basement of a two-family house, officials said. Their deaths are believed to be storm-related -- and the NYPD says so far all the home deaths appear to have involved basement apartments -- but will be further investigated. Details on the 12th and 13th New York City victims weren't immediately clear.

"Our hearts ache for the lives lost in last night's storm. Please keep them and their loved ones in your thoughts today," the mayor said Thursday. "They were our fellow New Yorkers and to their families, your city will be there for you in the days ahead."

Team coverage of Hurricane Ida's remnants in our area.

A couple from Westchester County went missing amid Ida's fury, according to Harrison officials. The couple's vehicle was found Thursday afternoon pinned against a utility pole in Purchase; a body located a quarter mile from the car. A 69-year-old man was found elsewhere in the same county not far from his submerged car near Route 119.

The other 23 confirmed deaths were in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy said "the majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles by flooding and were taken by the water." Murphy went on to urge residents to not attempt to drive through flood waters, and that flooding dangers still persist.

Additionally, there where at least four bodies were found in Elizabeth's Oakwood Plaza Apartments complex, a spokeswoman for the city said. Those included three family members -- a 72-year-old woman, her 71-year-old husband and their 38-year-old son -- and a 33-year-old neighbor.

A mayoral spokeswoman believed all four were found on the first floor and noted fire department headquarters nearby were under 8 feet of water. Search and rescue teams were continuing efforts to assess any other additional potential casualties.

Another New Jersey death was confirmed in Passaic County, while at least two others have been reported missing. The locations of the other New Jersey deaths weren't immediately clear. Most if not all the deaths were flood-related.

Only the names of eight New York City victims have been released so far. Here's what we know about Ida's victims so far.

Over in Connecticut, a state trooper died after his cruiser was swept away in floodwaters in Woodbury early Thursday morning.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut declared states of emergency to expedite federal assistance as the three states, the first two in particular, face catastrophic flood and wind damage from New Haven to the city's five boroughs to the Garden State's Gloucester County.

Check the latest rainfall totals across the tri-state area here.

More than 200,000 remained without power in the tri-state area early Thursday, with New Jersey bearing the brunt of the outages (100,000-plus as of 7 a.m.). Those outages had dropped below 50,000 by the evening, according to

One of the deaths was confirmed in Passaic, New Jersey, and seven in New York City, including a 2-year-old boy. NBC New York's Pei-Sze Cheng and Myles Miller report.

Ida dumped well more than a month's worth of rain on Central Park in a matter of hours, its wrath forcing a near-total shutdown of travel at the height of the disaster. New York City issued an all-out travel ban at the height of the storm as subway stations became submerged and customers stranded on underground trains.

The National Weather Service recorded 3.15 inches of rain in Central Park in one hour, far surpassing the brief record of 1.94 inches that fell in the park within an hour during Tropical Storm Henri less than two weeks ago.

Preliminary rainfall totals showed a widespread 3 to 8 inches of rain across the board, with isolated amounts up to 10 inches. The New York City area saw extreme rainfall rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour and Central Park ended up with 7.19 inches from this latest storm, according to NWS. Only Newark saw more locally.

Check the latest rainfall totals across the tri-state area here.

A first-ever flash flood emergency was issued for 9.1 million New Yorkers at risk as NWS urged people to seek higher ground. Ida's devastation was substantially more profound than expected. Many likened the flash flood toll to that of Sandy in 2012.

Videos posted online showed subway riders standing on seats in cars filled with water.

All but four NYC subway lines remained suspended as Thursday's morning rush got underway. Later that night, only the W and E lines were still shut down, though partial suspensions were reported on almost a dozen lines and nearly that many had delays.

NJ Transit was hampered more -- only the Morris & Essex line resumed service, and only eastbound, while all other rail service except the Atlantic City line remained suspended. People are still urged to avoid travel if at all possible to assist cleanup.

The National Weather Service confirmed that at least three tornadoes touched down in New Jersey Wednesday night -- one that sent debris a stunning 23,000 feet into the air -- and social media posts showed homes reduced to rubble in Mullica Hill, a southern New Jersey town just outside Philadelphia. Officials were surveying additional locations Thursday.

Gov. Phil Murphy toured that scene Thursday morning as he pledged a comprehensive response to the devastation wrought by Ida throughout his state.

It's been "an extraordinary, sadly tragic, historic 24 hours in New Jersey, there's no other way to put it," Murphy said, flanked by people whose homes were destroyed by the tornado. "Look at either side of us right now and the impact of these tornadoes that touched down in this county. Up north, the story was less tornadoes but overwhelming flooding. This is going to take us some time to dig out of."

Hurricane Ida's remnants packed a powerful punch in New Jersey - putting several neighborhods under more than two feet of water. Pat Battle reports.

"We're going to stay here and be by the side of the residents and the small businesses who have been impacted so severely. You're barely getting back on your feet from a pandemic and now you get whacked with this," the Democratic governor added. "I promise we'll stay with everybody -- it won't be a short road, but we'll stay with them on the road to recovery."

The pounding rain mostly stopped before dawn Thursday but many New York and New Jersey counties remained under a flood warning as meteorologists warned rivers likely won't crest for a few more days. Check the latest severe weather alerts for your neighborhood here.

Lingering gusty winds Thursday could exacerbate power outages -- and tri-state residents will likely be dealing with Ida's impacts for days, if not weeks, to come.

Unprecedented flooding in Jamaica, Queens, caused the side of a home to cave in, killing a mother and her son as feet-high floodwaters rushed into their basement apartment. A source at the Office of Emergency Management and neighbors said divers were sent through the crater in the 183rd Street home to recover their bodies.

The FDNY confirmed firefighters rescued two other people (a father and son) following a partial wall collapse at the same location. Another woman was confirmed dead at a residence on Grand Central Parkway after police responded to a 911 call about flooding.

The deaths of the 2-year-old boy and two others were also in Queens -- at a home in Flushing -- and came amid reports of flooding as well, as did the death of the 86-year-old woman at a home on 84th Street in the same borough.

Citywide rescue efforts continued well into Thursday, with first responders using specialty "high-axle" vehicles purchased after Sandy to help save people.

Mayor de Blasio issued a local state of emergency for New York City in addition to the one imposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul late Wednesday.

It marks the latest devastation for a city still struggling to emerge from a COVID-19 pandemic that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

New York state and city officials called the scale of this disaster unforeseen as many others similarly wondered how Ida could cause such devastation 1,000 miles and days later from where it made landfall.

"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,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a briefing in Queens Thursday. “Could that have been anticipated? I want to find out.”

De Blasio also said weather projections failed to predict such a cataclysmic downpour, saying at that same briefing, “We’re getting from the very best experts projections that then are made a mockery of in a matter of minutes."

He said the forecast Wednesday morning was 3 to 6 inches of rain over the course of the day. He said that was not a “particularly problematic” amount. Instead, New York City got the “biggest single hour of rainfall” in its history.

In addition to the five counties that comprise New York City, Hochul's state of emergency covers Dutchess, Nassau, Suffolk, Sullivan, Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Westchester and Putnam counties.

Hochul on Thursday directed state agencies to deploy additional assets to the flood-ravaged New York City metro area as well. She also requested a Federal Emergency Declaration for 14 downstate counties late Thursday.

NY City Councilmember I. Daneek Miller was holding a news conference when his mom called - and NY Gov. Kathy Hochul stepped in to answer the phone so he could keep talking.

"Hundreds" of rescues were said to have been conducted in New York City, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens, at the height of the storm, while Hochul said about 100 were conducted in Rockland and Westchester counties alone. Report NYC storm damage here. NYPD officials confirmed roughly 500 abandoned cars had been towed by mid-day Thursday.

Over in New Jersey, Murphy declared a state of emergency for all 21 counties and pledged rapid federal relief to come. By Thursday night he requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Joe Biden.

The Garden State's largest city of Newark recorded its wettest day in history Wednesday. Nearly five dozen water rescues had been conducted there before dawn and more than 370 flights were canceled out of the airport hub Thursday after extensive flooding the night before.

"Please stay off the roads. Many roads remain flooded this morning," Murphy cautioned Thursday. "It is not safe to drive. Our crews are working to clear and open roads, and we need everyone to stay off them so crews can safely do their job."

Eighteen miles away in Englewood, video posted to TikTok showed food, bread and other grocery items cascading down the aisle of a flooded ShopRite as if in a river, while an SUV ended on top of the roof of a smaller vehicle in the same town.

ida cars
News 4
Cars ended up on top of one another in Englewood, New Jersey.

Wind damage was equally as significant as flood damage in the Garden State.

The roof collapsed at the Postal Service building in Kearny with people inside, police Sgt. Chris Levchak said. Rescue crews were on scene into the night, with no immediate word on the number of people or severity of injuries.

The mayor of Passaic also declared a local state of emergency, with four to five feet of water on the ground and at least one flood-related death confirmed there. Several people are still missing in that New Jersey city, its mayor said Thursday.

The Passaic Valley Water Commission issued a boil water advisory for residents in parts of Passaic, Paterson and Clifton due to excessive run-off. Jersey City and parts of Hudson County were also issued a boil water advisory.

The town of Rahway, which saw one house explode and more than 70 people flee their homes, was also particularly hard-hit.

Floodwaters brought the New Jersey Turnpike to a standstill late Wednesday. Water rose as high as vehicles' tires on the busy highway as well as on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and I-95 in Connecticut, videos posted to social media show.

Cars were said to have been abandoned in floodwaters from the Garden State Parkway in East Orange to the Grand Central Parkway near Elmhurst in Queens.

Soaking rains prompted major evacuations after water reached dangerous levels at a dam near Johnstown, a Pennsylvania town nicknamed Flood City. An official said later Wednesday that the water levels near the dam were receding.

Utilities reported hundreds of thousands of customers without power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In Rockville, Maryland, water had almost reached the ceilings of basement units Wednesday when crews arrived at an apartment complex. A 19-year-old was found dead, another person was missing and about 200 people from 60 apartments near Rock Creek were displaced, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said.

A person recorded video of water rushing through an apartment's living room door in New York City as remnants of Ida triggered flash floods across the area.

The National Weather Service had predicted extensive flooding from what remained of Hurricane Ida, saying steep terrain and even city streets were particularly vulnerable to a band of severe weather that extended to Massachusetts, where tornado warnings were issued early Thursday.

Central Park typically gets 4.31 inches of rain during the month of September -- and saw more than 1.6 times that in just a matter of hours as Ida hit.

The greatest single-day September rainfall total in New York City was 8.28 inches in 1882, records show. Parts of Brooklyn saw more than that over Henri's 36-hour siege last month. This summer has been Central Park's second wettest on record.

Meanwhile, Storm Team 4 is tracking Tropical Storm Larry, which strengthened into a hurricane early Thursday and is expected to further intensify. Forecasters predict it will do so rapidly and in a manner similar to Ida, becoming a major hurricane with top wind speeds of 120 mph by Saturday. At this point, it's too early to predict the potential U.S. impacts from Larry so stay with Storm Team 4 for details.

Track any approaching storms using our interactive radar below.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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