New York City, Newark and the surrounding parts along the eastern shore board continue to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Ida unleashed torrential rains of historic proportion on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
As the death toll continues to rise, officials from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania report the storm has caused at least 29 deaths due to record rain, flooding and tornadoes.
On Thursday, Sept. 2, as officials surveyed the damage, the tri-state area remained under a state of emergency.
Newark reported its highest amount of rainfall in the city’s history with flooding waters causing the temporary shutdown of Newark Liberty International Airport. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, tens of thousands of people were without power and parts of the Vine Street Expressway, which runs through the center of the city, were under water.
The Schuykill reached the “major flood stage” determination on Wednesday night and later forced citizens to abandon their cars, many of which would be found the next morning on the expressway and along the river’s shores almost completely submerged.
Frustrated computers had few options on Thursday after Amtrak canceled all service between Washington, D.C. and Boston for the remainder of the day, cutting off a key transportation route across the Northeast. Flooding also hampered transportation in New Jersey where all NJ Transit rail service, except the Atlantic City Rail Line, was suspended as of Thursday.
Several records for rainfall were reported: New York City’s Central Park received 7.13 inches of rain Wednesday, its fifth-wettest day on record; Newark had 8.41 inches of rain, its wettest day on record, with 3.24 inches falling in just one hour.
Meteorologists say rainfall in such amounts historically occur only once over a 200- to 500-year period.
Meanwhile, federal assistance has been provided with emergency officials dispatched to the area. President Biden said he has monitored the situation and remained in communication with officials from the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut whose states have been impacted by the storm with more than 200,000 customers still without power as of Thursday morning.
“We’re all in this together,” Biden said. “The nation is here to help. That’s the message I’ve been making clear to the mayors, governors, energy and utility leaders.”
In remarks Thursday, Biden said his team told governors in states harmed most by Ida and the resulting tropical storm that the Federal Emergency Management Agency remains available to provide as much as assistance as possible. He spoke prior to his trip to Louisiana on Friday where Hurricane Ida first made landfall earlier this week.
In a news conference Thursday, state and local leaders in New York pointed to the impact that climate change had in the historic storm. They also promised to improve the state’s infrastructure in anticipation of future storms.
“This is the first time we’ve had a flash flood event of this proportion,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said during a press conference. “We haven’t experienced this before but we should expect it the next time.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed her remarks saying the record-breaking rainfall confirmed that “Global warming is upon us.”
The history-making rain struck the eastern shore board after the remnants of Hurricane Ida collided with a jet stream and warm front already occurring over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Prior to the storm along the East Coast, officials from the National Weather Service pointed to a rare but “high risk” of excessive rainfall from southern and eastern Pennsylvania through New York City into Connecticut.
When New York was struck by Hurricane Sandy, the then newly-opened South Ferry subway station was totally submerged under water, taking five years for the station to be repaired and upgraded. On Thursday morning, it remained in operation but only partially.
Commuters from New Jersey discovered that only air travel could get them to their destinations in New York and other parts of the area. Buses were delayed at Port Authority while trains were suspended both there and at Grand Central Terminal.
In addition, all NJ Transit rail service, except the Atlantic City Rail Line, remained suspended as of Thursday. In Central Park, rainfall broke a 94-year-old record, while Newark demolished a 62-year-old record, according to the National Weather Service.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said during a press conference Thursday that the past 24 hours in the state have been “extraordinary” and “sadly tragic.” He added that recovery efforts would “take some time.” He further advised residents to “stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe.”