Shafaq News/ The death toll from flooding after the remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled cities in the East rose sharply to 45 on Thursday after New Jersey announced at least 23 people had died there.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the majority of the deaths were people caught in their vehicles by flooding and were “overtaken by the water.” Officials said many people were unaccounted for.
“We’re going to withhold a complete rundown of the blessed losses of life. They are spread across a handful of counties, largely concentrated — not entirely — but largely concentrated in central Jersey and a few in the north,” Murphy said in an evening update.
Dozens have died in six Eastern states — Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia — after the storm brought unprecedented rainfall to some areas.
The death toll included a state trooper in Connecticut who was swept away as he responded to a missing person’s call.
On Thursday, water rescues continued in some areas and southern New Jersey was cleaning up from a tornado that flattened homes.
In the Philadelphia area, some streets were swamped, delaying the city’s rail and bus services, closing city buildings and prompting leaders to urge people to work from home.
Rescuers navigated boats through flooded streets Thursday morning in and around Philadelphia, northern Delaware and parts of New York state, ferrying people from flooded homes.
In Pennsylvania alone, thousands of rescues are believed to have happened so far, state emergency management Director Randy Padfield said.
“There’s a lot of damage, and I made clear to the governors that my team at … FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that is needed,” President Joe Biden said.
In New York City, first responders rescued commuters from halted subway trains Wednesday night, while other travelers were stranded overnight in subway stations, some sleeping on benches with service suspended and no way to get to their destinations.
Beverly Pryce, a nurse from Queens, was among those who stayed overnight in a Manhattan subway station, having left her home Wednesday night to go to work, only for the flooding to bring everything to a standstill.
“(I’ve seen) nothing like this,” she told CNN on Thursday morning. “I didn’t expect it to be this severe; I would not have left my house.”
Amrita Bhagwandin’s home in Queens flooded.
“I can’t think anymore about how I feel at this point because of the chaos outside, my neighbors, there’s loss of life,” she told CNN. “I’ve lost everything in here and mostly the lives out there… we need some support … this is too much for us. There is no end in sight.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told CNN that the state is used to disasters but this would be a massive cleanup.
“I would urge people to stay home, check on your neighbors, make sure they’re OK,” she said.
Murphy called the flooding that impacted New Jersey “historic by any measure.”
“It’s never flooded like this, it’s never rained like this,” Murphy said, adding that state officials will do an investigation into the storm and their response.
Murphy said storms like Ida reflect climate change realities and the need to address it. “These storms are coming more frequently and with more intensity, so there’s no denying it,” Murphy said.
Emergencies were declared for New York state, New York City and New Jersey. In New York City alone, firefighters rescued hundreds of people from vehicles on flooded roads and hundreds more from the subway system, the city fire department said Thursday.