- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2021

The New York City region awoke Thursday to debris-strewn downtowns, soggy basements and crippled transit after a “historic” overnight downpour from the remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least eight people.

The storm dropped more than 5 inches of rain in Central Park in a three-hour period Wednesday. Newark, New Jersey, saw 8 inches, making it the wettest day on record.

Eight people ranging in age from 2 to 86 died in New York City, and a man in his 70s died in Passaic, New Jersey, after he was trapped in a car in rising floodwaters.

“This is on par with Hurricane Irene,” Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla told CNN. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Mr. Bhalla said the number of 911 calls has been “overwhelming” and parts of the town that typically do not flood were submerged overnight. He asked people to work from home if they can on Thursday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dubbed it a “historic weather event,” and the Metropolitan Transit Authority warned commuters that service was “extremely limited” Thursday after the city fire department said it rescued “hundreds” from flood roadways and subway stations.

“We’re still uncovering the true depth of the loss,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said as she tackles her first major crisis after taking the reins from fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, pledged to bring federal aid to the Northeast, akin to Superstorm Sandy.

“That will mean money, money for homeowners and individuals, money for small businesses that may have been lost,” he said. Mr. Schumer joined the chorus of officials saying “global warming is upon us” after two record rainfalls in one week, turning it into a selling point for President Biden’s infrastructure plan in Congress.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy pleaded with motorists to give workers space as they cleared debris, water and branches from roadways. He toured hard-hit areas like Mullica Hill in southern Gloucester County, where tornadoes wrecked homes.

“This is gonna take us some time to dig out of there’s no question about it,” he said in front of a row of homes defaced by Mother Nature.

“The world is changing. These storms are coming in more frequently,” Mr. Murphy said. “They’re coming in with more intensity.”

New Jersey closed state offices and NJ Transit said all of its rail services, except for the Atlantic City line, remained suspended early Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday, the storm blew through the mid-Atlantic states with at least two tornadoes, heavy winds and drenching rains that collapsed the roof of a U.S. Postal Service building in New Jersey and threatened to overrun a dam in Pennsylvania.

Social media posts showed homes reduced to rubble in a southern New Jersey county just outside Philadelphia, not far from where the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado Wednesday evening. Authorities did not have any immediate information on injuries.

The roof collapsed at the Postal Service building in Kearny, New Jersey, 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.

Mr. Murphy, the only governor in the U.S. facing reelection this year, said he planned on Thursday to visits towns that experienced heavy damage.

“There’s a lot of hurt right now in New Jersey, and we’re going to be there for folks,” Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s going to be a long road to recovery but we’re going to be there with them.”

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 Wednesday.

A tornado was believed to have touched down along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

“In many years I have not seen circumstances like this,” Chief Goldstein said.

The National Weather Service had predicted 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.

Tropical Storm Henri hit the region a little more than a week ago, causing flooding and leaving the region saturated and more vulnerable to this week’s torrents.

Tropical Storm Larry was strengthening and moving quickly westward after forming off the coast of Africa earlier Wednesday. Forecasters predicted it would rapidly intensify in a manner similar to Ida, becoming a major hurricane with top wind speeds of 120 mph (193 kph) by Saturday.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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