NEW YORK: Flash flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida killed at least 18 people in the New York area overnight into Thursday, including several who perished in their basements during the "historic" weather event.
Record rainfall, which prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency warning for New York City, turned streets into rivers and shut down subway services as water cascaded down platforms onto tracks.
"I'm 50 years old and I've never seen that much rain ever," said Metodija Mihajlov whose basement of his Manhattan restaurant was flooded with three inches of water. "It was like living in the jungle, like tropical rain. Unbelievable. Everything is so strange this year," he told AFP. Hundreds of flights were cancelled at LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as at Newark, where video showed a terminal inundated by rainwater.
"We're all in this together. The nation is ready to help," President Joe Biden said ahead of a trip Friday to the southern state of Louisiana, where Ida earlier destroyed buildings and left more than a million homes without power.
Flooding closed major roads across multiple New York boroughs including Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens, submerging cars and forcing the fire department to rescue hundreds of people.
Nine died in New York City, including eight who could not escape their basements, police said. The victims ranged from the ages of 2 to 86.
"Among the people MOST at risk during flash floods here are those living in off-the-books basement dwellings that don't meet the safety codes necessary to save lives," lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.