Henri had already delivered record-breaking rain totals and widespread flooding hours before making landfall Sunday afternoon. Heavy rain overwhelmed storm drains and drivers plowed through foot-deep water in a few spots Saturday night in New York City and New Jersey, and it only got worse on Sunday.
Henri, which was downgraded to a tropical depression, was still projected to bring another three to six inches of rainfall Sunday after passing Long Island and making landfall near Westerly, Rhode Island.
Flash flood warnings have been issued well into late Sunday night and early Monday morning for parts of the five boroughs, northern New Jersey and the Hudson Valley. Check the latest severe weather alerts for your neighborhood here.
Brooklyn had seen more than eight inches of rain by Sunday evening, and Central Park got more than six inches. Multiple parts of New Jersey also saw intense rainfall with more torrential downpours still ahead.
Drivers in Newark tried moving through flooded roadways, too. One driver recorded a number of cars on Route 21 in flood waters several inches high. Several water rescues were reported Sunday morning in Middlesex County. Newark officials said that as of early Sunday afternoon, 86 people had to be rescued by the city Department of Public Safety in 11 thunderstorm events related to Henri, with multiple vehicles getting submerged in flooded areas, particularly the Ironbound section as well as the South and East Wards.
The National Weather Service said drivers had to be rescued after they got stuck in a flash flood on 3rd Avenue beneath the Gowanus Expressway and between 4th Avenue and Carroll Street late Saturday.
One of the hardest hit areas has been Helmetta, New Jersey, where bands of rain almost all day long overwhelmed creeks and sewers. Flash flooding swamped block after block, with emergency crews plucking more than 150 people from their homes as water rose around them — reaching just below mailboxes there.
Another 150 or so people were rescued from their cars or homes in Cranbury, many of them from cars that had to be fished out of the water by tow trucks. The town has seen one of the highest rainfall totals of anywhere in the tri-state.
According to the NWS, nearly 4 inches of rain fell Saturday night alone in Central Park. With 1.94 inches between 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., it was the rainiest hour in 150+ years of recorded history. There have been several reports of multiple vehicles stranded in floods in parts of the city and on Long Island.
No stranger to flooding, the subway system had to suspend several lines for a brief period overnight in Manhattan. Interim NYC Transit President Craig Cipriano pleaded with New Yorkers to "stay home if you can" as Henri's wrath descended, flooding train tracks, streets and subways overnight. Most lines were running as of early Sunday evening, and no major problems were reported throughout the day.