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In Storm’s Wake, Leaders Acknowledge Need to Confront Climate Change


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The remnants of Hurricane Ida caused flash flooding, multiple deaths and disrupted transit across parts of New York and New Jersey.CreditCredit…Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

In the aftermath of a ferocious storm that killed more than three dozen people in four states, national and local leaders acknowledged Thursday that extreme weather events posed an urgent and ongoing threat.

The storm killed at least 43 people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and left more than 150,000 homes without power. States of emergency remained in effect across the region by midday Thursday, as officials sought to get a handle on the damage.

Speaking from the White House, President Biden said that the damage indicated that “extreme storms and the climate crisis are here,” constituting what he called “one of the great challenges of our time.”

At a news conference in Queens on Thursday morning, Gov. Kathy C. Hochul of New York said that she had received a call from President Biden, who she said “offered any assistance” as the state assessed the damage from Ida, a storm that she said represented a new normal.

“We need to foresee these in advance, and be prepared,” she said.

The deluge of rain on Wednesday — more than half a foot fell in just a few hours — turned streets and subway platforms into rivers. Emergency responders in boats rescued people from the rooftops of cars. Hundreds of people were evacuated from trains and subways. A tornado in southern New Jersey leveled a stretch of houses. Some rivers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were still rising.

Sept. 1, 2021

Between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., Ida dropped a record 3.24 inches of rain in Newark — nearly an inch more rain than the previous hourly record in 2006.

3 inches per hour

July 21, 2006

Severe thunderstorms led to a one-hour precipitation total of 2.35 inches between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Sept. 1, 2021

Ida also produced the seventh-highest hourly rainfall, dropping 1.82 inches between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Sept. 1, 2021

Between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., Ida dropped a record 3.24 inches of rain in Newark — nearly an inch more rain than the previous hourly record in 2006.

3 inches per hour

July 21, 2006

Severe thunderstorms led to a one-hour precipitation total of 2.35 inches between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Sept. 1, 2021

Ida also produced the seventh-highest hourly rainfall, dropping 1.82 inches between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Sept. 1, 2021

3.24 inches between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

3 inches per hour

July 21, 2006

2.35 inches between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Sept. 1, 2021

1.82 inches between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The rain broke records set just 11 days before by Tropical Storm Henri, underscoring warnings from climate scientists of a new normal on a warmed planet: Hotter air holds more water and allows storms to gather strength more quickly and grow ever larger.

Many of New York City’s subway lines remained suspended into the evening on Thursday. Airports were open but hundreds of flights had been canceled.

In New York City, the dead ranged in age from a 2-year-old boy to an 86-year-old woman, the police said. Some drowned in basement apartments in Queens, where a system of makeshift and mostly illegally converted living spaces has sprung up.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced that at least 23 people in the state had died. They included four people found dead in an apartment complex in Elizabeth and two people were killed in Hillsborough, N.J. after they became trapped in their vehicles, a spokeswoman for the town said. Another death occurred in Passaic, N.J., where the Passaic River breached its banks and fish flopped in the streets.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut announced that the state would lower flags to half-staff to honor Brian Mohl, a state police sergeant whose car was swept away by the floodwaters.

The 3.15 inches of rain that fell in Central Park in one hour on Wednesday eclipsed the record-breaking one-hour rainfall of 1.94 inches on Aug. 21. The National Weather Service, struggling to depict the level of danger, declared a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time.

In Bergen County, New Jersey’s most populous county, County Executive James Tedesco, a former firefighter, said on Thursday: “We have not complete devastation but close to it. This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it.”

Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Jonah E. Bromwich, Maria Cramer, Isabella Grullón Paz, Matthew Haag, Jesus Jiménez, Michael Levenson, Eduardo Medina, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Ali Watkins and Ashley Wong.

The Schuylkill exceeded its banks in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia on Thursday after downpours from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. 
Credit…Matt Rourke/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — As Thursday morning began, Ron Harper, 87, was in his apartment 14 floors above a steadily flooding Philadelphia and wondered when he would ever leave.

By late morning, everyone in the building was told to to evacuate, so Mr. Harper found himself walking down 14 flights in an unlit stairwell, wondering when he would ever get back. Still, it could be worse.

“I feel so bad for the people who lost property,” he said.

Those people were all over the region on Thursday, as residents of Mid-Atlantic States awoke to a trail of destruction left behind by remnants of Ida, which struck Louisiana as a hurricane days before. Tornadoes had touched down in Maryland and in the Philadelphia suburbs, while rain-swollen rivers had flooded small towns — and were still rising.

Officials in Pennsylvania said emergency responders had conducted thousands of water rescues, pulling people out of apartment buildings and cars.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Tens of thousands of people were without power in the Philadelphia area, where a portion of the Vine Street Expressway that runs through the center of the city was submerged.

“Al Gore gave us a wake-up call 20 years ago and no one paid attention,” said Frank Feingold, 76, a retired probation officer and one of about a dozen people taking photos of the flooded interstate where muddy water was lapping the road signs.

The Schuylkill had reached the “major” flood stage designation overnight, leaving cars across the city nearly completely under water.

“We are still doing water rescues across the city; we’ve done that for the past 15 hours now continually,” Adam Thiel, the Philadelphia fire commissioner, said in a news briefing. “We know that the flooding reached levels that have not been seen in 100 years,” he added. “And potentially this will be a record-breaking flood.”

The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, emphasized that the storm was part of a pattern of disaster caused by climate change. “Extreme weather events like Ida are not isolated incidents,” he said. “They are another indication of the worsening climate crisis.”

In Manayunk, a neighborhood on the Schuylkill, brown floodwaters swirled through the open doors and windows of restaurants along Main Street, including Pizzeria L’angolo. Its owner, Guido Abbate, stood outside and took stock.

He had put sandbags outside the business around midnight on Wednesday, he said, but the defenses had been rapidly overwhelmed by the floodwaters. He and his family had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in ovens, refrigerators and other equipment, he said, and he was unable to save any of them.

“It was coming so hard that the basement filled up, and it was coming through the heating and air-conditioning vents,” he said. “It came halfway up the windows.”

Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Some of the hardest-hit areas were in the Philadelphia suburbs. In Montgomery County, officials said at a news briefing that “the size and scope of the damage from this storm has been vast,” with record flooding prompting hundreds of water rescues, and a possible tornado. Three people had died in the county, officials said, two apparently from drowning.

“After last night’s rain, the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek are continuing to rise,” said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “Both waterways have already surpassed all-time records.”

In Bucks County late Wednesday night, Pennsylvania state troopers tried to reach a car that had driven into floodwaters but had to postpone their efforts when conditions grew too severe. When they returned early Thursday morning, the driver, a 65-year-old man, was found dead in the car.

The Delaware River was still rising in Bucks County on Thursday afternoon. Gene DiGirolamo, a county commissioner, said to reporters that some parts of the county got 10 inches of rain. “I don’t think it would be over the top to say this storm has been catastrophic,” Mr. DiGirolamo said.

The National Weather Service reported at least four tornadoes had touched down in Maryland on Wednesday night and one near Mullica Hill, N.J.







Ida Brings Tornado and Heavy Rain as It Moves North

The remnants of Hurricane Ida continued to advance through the Mid-Atlantic toward southern New England, creating at least one tornado and hazardous flooding conditions in the region.

“That is a tornado.” “Touchdown. Oh, my God.”

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The remnants of Hurricane Ida continued to advance through the Mid-Atlantic toward southern New England, creating at least one tornado and hazardous flooding conditions in the region.CreditCredit…Gamal Diab/EPA, via Shutterstock

One of those tornadoes ripped a path through southern Anne Arundel County, Md., tearing the roofs from homes and businesses, punching out windows, downing trees and closing several blocks of an Annapolis business district.

Just south of the city, in the town of Edgewater, power lines lay over the roads, a house sat a few feet back from its foundation and a Toyota Tacoma lay on its roof. An official from the Fire Department said there were no reported injuries, but the storm left residents reeling.

“For me it was just like a flash,” said Carlos Zepeda, who rushed to the basement with his daughter and mother-in-law when he heard the noise. “We tried to find a hiding place, and then it was over.”

When he came outside, he found his neighbor’s grill in his yard, and out back there was a kitchen sink. It wasn’t his.

Reporting was contributed by Jesus Jiménez, Michael Levenson, Isabella Grullón Paz, Eduardo Medina, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Ashley Wong, Brenda Wintrode and Tiffany May.


An earlier version of this article misidentified the date that four tornadoes touched down in Maryland and one in New Jersey. It was Wednesday night, not Thursday.

Roxanna Florentino looked at the damage in the basement of the building where she lives in Brooklyn on Thursday. Her neighbor, Roberto Bravo, died there on Wednesday night as surging waters poured in.
Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

The torrents from Ida’s waters cascaded through New York City basement doors and windows, turning everyday spaces into death traps.

In Woodside, Queens, Deborah Torres said she heard the desperate pleas from the basement of three members of a family, including a toddler.

As the water rushed into the building about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Ms. Torres said she heard the family frantically call out to another neighbor, Choi Sledge. Ms. Sledge pleaded with the family to flee.

Within moments, however, the cascade of water was too powerful, and it also kept anyone from trying to get downstairs to help.

“It was impossible,” said Ms. Torres, who lives on the first floor. “It was like a pool.”

The family did not survive.

Darlene Lee, 48, was in a basement apartment that belonged to the super of a condominium in Central Parkway, Queens. Flooding burst through a glass sliding door in the apartment, and quickly filled it with about six feet of murky water.

The water pinned Ms. Lee between the apartment’s steel front door and the door frame, leaving her wedged and unable to escape.

Patricia Fuentes, the property manager, had just gotten off work when she heard Ms. Lee screaming for help and found her stuck. Ms. Fuentes ran to the lobby to call for aid, and Jayson Jordan, the assistant super, and Andy Tapia, a handyman, jumped through the broken glass door to get to Ms. Lee.

But they could not save her. Ms. Lee was pinned and Mr. Tapia tried to help her keep her above the chin-deep water. Eventually, the men were able to pry her from the door, but it was too late, Mr. Jordan said. Ms. Lee was killed by the storm.

In Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, Ricardo Garcia was awakened by a surge of water that he said exploded through the door of his shared basement apartment at about 10:15 p.m. In moments, it was up to his knees, then his waist, then his chest.

Mr. Garcia, 50, banged on the door next to his, waking another roommate, Oliver De La Cruz, who was shaking on Thursday morning as he looked at the water stains that reached to the ceiling of his ruined room.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

“I almost died inside here, I almost died, man,” said Mr. De La Cruz, 22.

Mr. De La Cruz broke down his bedroom door to escape in his boxer shorts. Mr. Garcia said that he and Mr. De La Cruz climbed to the first floor, struggling against the water pouring down the stairs.

Mr. De La Cruz found his upstairs neighbor, Roxanna Florentino, who has lived in the building for 18 years. She said she heard another man, 66-year-old Roberto Bravo, crying out for help from a back bedroom in the basement apartment.

Credit…via Pablo Bravo

Ms. Florentino said Mr. Bravo was pleading for help in Spanish, and neighbors were trying to reach him. But water was pouring through both the front door and a window. She realized Mr. Bravo’s screaming had stopped.

On Thursday, it was clear that the water had risen so forcefully where Mr. Bravo had been that it tore off the door and broke though the ceiling, leaving dank decay. The Ecuadorian flag hanging on his wall was soaked and muddied, the floor below strewn with debris, along with a water-stained photo of Mr. Bravo in a tuxedo at a formal event.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

Ms. Florentino made her first of four 911 calls at 10:15 p.m. Firefighters arrived an hour later. They brought out Mr. Bravo’s body.

She tried to sleep but each time she drifted off, she heard Mr. Bravo’s voice, calling a last time.

“It’s so hard when someone asks for help and you can’t help them,” she said.

The 56th Street underpass on Flushing Avenue, where flood waters rose high and claimed many vehicles attempting to make the cross earlier.
Credit…Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

At least 43 people were killed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut after the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the region on Wednesday.

Fifteen people are known to have died in New York, including thirteen in New York City, most of whom were found at homes in Queens and Brooklyn and ranged in age from 2 to 86, the police said. Official causes of death will be determined later by the city’s medical examiner, the department said.

Another victim, Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Weissmandl, was killed after being trapped by floodwaters near the Tappan Zee Bridge while driving home to Mt. Kisco, N.Y., from Monsey.

At least 23 people were killed in New Jersey, according to Gov. Philip D. Murphy.

They included four people whose bodies were found in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, across the street from a flooded firehouse, said Kelly Martins, the city’s spokeswoman.

Two people were killed in Hillsborough, N.J., after they became trapped in their vehicles, a spokeswoman for the town said. Two people were also killed in Bridgewater Township, N.J., according to the police.

One man was found dead in Passaic, N.J., after being trapped in a car in rapidly rising floodwaters, Mayor Hector C. Lora said, and a body was found inside a pickup truck in Hunterdon County, N.J., Mayor Henri Schepens said.

Four people also died in Bucks and Montgomery counties, north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania officials said, at least three of them from drowning.

And at least one person, a Connecticut state police sergeant, died in Woodbury after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters, the police said in a news conference.

Three of the dead in New York City — a 2-year-old boy, a 48-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man — were found at a home on 64th Street in Woodside, Queens.

There, Choi Sledge, who lives on the third floor of the house, said she received a frantic call from a woman who lives in the basement apartment, whom she identified as Mingma Sherpa, around 9:30 p.m.

“She said, ‘The water is coming in right now,’ and I say, ‘Get out!’ Get to the third floor!” Mrs. Sledge recalled.

“The last thing I hear from them is, ‘The water coming in from the window.’ And that was it.” She identified the other two people who died as Ms. Sherpa’s partner, Lobsang Lama, and their son, Ang.

The oldest known victim in New York was an 86-year-old woman in Glendale, Queens.

The police said that 11 of the 12 city residents who died because of the storm had been found in basement apartments, a common and often illegal feature of homes in densely packed neighborhoods in Queens.

Andy Newman, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Jonah E. Bromwich Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Matthew Goldstein, Maria Cramer, Azi Paybarah and Tiffany May contributed reporting.


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Across the city, New Yorkers documented the scene as flood waters overwhelmed buses and subways. Nearly every subway line in the city was shut down.CreditCredit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

As the New York City region regained its footing after record-breaking rains that left much of the area’s transportation disrupted, the city’s transit lines were slowly resuming Thursday afternoon, though with a number of suspensions and continuing delays.

About a dozen New York City subway lines were either fully or partially suspended, with others experiencing delays, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s website. Amtrak canceled all trains between Albany and New York City through Friday.

Most New Jersey Transit rail service lines remained suspended except for the Atlantic City line and the Morris and Essex line, though full service was expected to be restored on Friday. Commuter buses continued to operate with delays, the service said.

The Long Island Rail Road resumed full service on most branches by Thursday afternoon, with partial suspensions on trains traveling east of Mets-Willets Point on the Port Washington Branch. Service on all three lines of the Metro-North Railroad, a commuter rail service, remained suspended.

The delays followed a night of intense rainfall that flooded streets and train stations and stranded thousands of travelers.

Phil Eng, president of the Long Island Rail Road, said at a news conference Thursday that the suspension of service was necessary. “It’s not a light decision to make, to shut down service, but with the visibility at near-zero, and seeing the devastation that Ida was causing elsewhere, it was the right call,” he said.

Dozens of flights were also canceled or delayed at Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport, and at least 370 flights were canceled Thursday morning at Newark Liberty International Airport. The lower level of Terminal B in Newark remained closed after flooding overnight.

Janno Lieber, acting chairman of the M.T.A., said on Thursday on CNN that passengers on 15 to 20 subway cars had to be rescued in the storm. No one was injured, he said.

“The subway system in New York is not a submarine,” Mr. Lieber said. “We definitely are subject to weather and water, especially when, like last night, the surface level, street level, drainage and sewer system is overwhelmed.”

When asked about what the system could do to update its subways and protect itself from future storms, Mr. Lieber noted that under-river tunnels were strengthened after Superstorm Sandy. The next step will be to improve coastline resiliency to mitigate floods in high elevation areas and prevent them from overwhelming street drains, he said.

Extreme storms have battered New York’s 24-hour train service in recent years. Service was stalled for several days following damage from Sandy in 2012. And in July of this year, rains from Tropical Storm Elsa created mass flooding that also led to waist-deep water in the city’s subway stations.

At the 96th Street Subway station in Manhattan on Wednesday, Mario Villa, a cook at Tartina, waited at least two hours for a train to his home in Queens. At midnight, sitting on a stalled No. 1 train beside a co-worker, he said, “We’ll wait. We don’t get upset. We just have to wait.”

Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Stacy Cowley, Andy Newman, Azi Paybarah, Christiaan Triebert and Ashley Wong.

The New York Police Department said it had towed 500 abandoned cars after the floods hit.
Credit…Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

One of the lasting images of Wednesday night’s storm will be dramatic videos and pictures of cars floating on the streets and of desperate drivers attempting to get home. Some drivers got out of their cars and simply left their vehicles on the road to get to safety.

As of Thursday afternoon, the New York Police Department said it had towed around 500 cars that had been abandoned, according to a police spokesman. (This number doesn’t account for any cars that might have been towed by a private company.)

The Police Department’s Twitter account said early on Thursday morning that people looking for their cars could call 311 to find out where they had been taken.

Some who abandoned cars on the road had harrowing tales.

Once the storm started, Peter Walker, 32, left the U.S. Open match he was attending in Queens and tried to drive to his parent’s house in Connecticut.

Almost as soon as he started driving, he regretted his decision. “There was so much rain and water everywhere,” he said. “I could barely see anything.”

Mr. Walker didn’t get into real trouble until around 11 p. m. when he arrived at Eastchester in the Bronx and tried to go through an underpass after Exit 13, he said. He saw cars submerged in the water and decided to play it safe, turning off his car and waiting for the water to go down.

But after he saw a Volkswagen Atlas — the exact same model as his car — make it through the water, he decided to try do the same. “The water came up over the hood, but I decided to keep going quickly so I wouldn’t get stuck,” he said. “I wanted to keep my momentum, but eventually the engine died, and I was stuck in all this water.”

He knew he couldn’t get out. “I opened a rear window in case I needed to escape, but then the water started seeping in,” he said.

He waited in his car for a frightening 90 minutes until his father arrived in his car to rescue him.

Enterprise, the company from whom he rented his car, towed the vehicle after he left. “The woman on the phone was so nice,” said Mr. Walker. “She said this wasn’t my fault, and it was happening to everyone and to just leave the car and get to safety.”


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Flooding in the New York region from the remnants of Hurricane Ida created dangerous conditions after basement apartments flooded in the storm.

When rain inundated New York City on Wednesday night, turning streets into rivers and flooding subway stations, officials sounded a desperate warning to keep residents safe: Stay inside.

Still, most of those New Yorkers who lost their lives during the floods were found inside basements, after water poured into homes from the streets and through the windows. On Thursday, when the city’s death toll reached 12, police officials said that 11 of the dead had been found in basements in residential homes.

A severe natural disaster has the potential to make any place unsafe. But the death toll from the storm on Wednesday also highlighted the unique, shadowy world of basement apartments in New York City. Tens of thousands of people, many of them immigrants or low-income residents unable to afford the city’s exorbitant rents, seek shelter in underground dwellings that are often not legal for residence and do not meet safety or building regulations.

It is not clear whether all of the homes where people died during the storm on Wednesday were illegal units. But at a home in Woodside, Queens, where a toddler and his parents were found dead, a certificate of occupancy shows that the basement had not been approved for residential use.

City records also showed two complaints of illegal basements in 2012 for a Queens home where an 86-year-old woman was found dead. The complaints were closed after city building inspectors could not gain access to the basement.

A spokesman for the Department of Buildings on Thursday said the agency was investigating the deaths, but did not have “any records of any previously issued violations at these properties related to illegal conversion issues.”

Credit…Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

The deaths highlighted what has been a longstanding issue: while basement apartments have long been a feature of New York City neighborhoods, providing many people a place to live who would not be able to find one otherwise, they have also proven to be dangerous in many cases, susceptible to deadly fires and floods.

It’s not clear exactly how many basement apartments there are in the city, given that many are illegal.

Annetta Seecharran, the executive director of the Chhaya Community Development Corporation, a group that works on housing issues for low-income South Asian and Indo-Caribbean New Yorkers, said that the storm’s toll highlighted the need for public officials to find a way to enable homeowners to convert illegal basement units into legal homes.

“If there was ever proof that we need to address this basement issue, this is it,” she said.

She said she had heard from several residents who had been displaced when their basement apartments had flooded, as homeowners struggled with getting help to start draining the basements or making repairs.

She said because of the need for affordable housing in New York City, and because many lower-income homeowners need supplemental income, people would continue to seek homes in basements, regardless of whether they were illegal. And because so many of the units are illegal, tenants might be reluctant to seek help or complain of unsafe conditions for fear of losing their abode.

“We need to bring basement apartments out of the shadows and in to the light,” Ms. Seecharran said.

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Adam Playford and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

President Biden on Thursday said the flash floods that inundated New York City and high-speed winds that left hundreds of thousands without power in Louisiana were a sign that “extreme storms and the climate crisis are here” and that the storms and fires creating life-or-death situations across the country constituted “one of the great challenges of our time.”

“Hurricane Ida didn’t care if you were a Democrat or Republican, rural or urban,” Mr. Biden said, urging Congress to pass his economic agenda when it returned from its recess later this month, in order to provide critical investments in electrical infrastructure. “This destruction is everywhere. And it’s a matter of life and death, and we’re all in this together.”

Mr. Biden said he had approved a disaster declaration for California after speaking with Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday night about the Caldor fire, which has threatened close to 35,000 structures, burned through 200,000 acres and forced tens of thousands of California residents to evacuate their homes.

He said he had also reached out to Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and promised them federal aid. “I made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed.”

In remarks on his administration’s response to Ida, Mr. Biden called on private insurance companies to “do the right thing” and cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of a national disaster, instead of denying coverage for living assistance expenses for some homeowners.

“Don’t hide behind the fine print and technicality,” Mr. Biden said, noting that some insurance companies were denying coverage for homeowners if they were not under mandatory evacuation orders.

“No one fled this killer storm because they were looking for a vacation, or a road trip, or able to stay in a hotel,” he said. “They left their homes because they felt it was flee or risk death. There’s nothing voluntary about that.”

In a stern rebuke of the insurance companies, he told them to “do your job. Keep your commitment to your communities you insure. Do the right thing. Pay your policy holders what you owe them to cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of a natural disaster.”

In Elizabeth, N.J., the power of a flooded river was visible long after the waters receded. 
Credit…Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

On Thursday the sun was out and the sky was a brilliant blue.

The wreckage from the night before was everywhere.

The remains of Hurricane Ida left more than 20 people dead as it roared through New York and New Jersey, scattering cars, shutting down the New York subway system, downing trees, flooding basements and submerging dense city neighborhoods in chest-high water. The smell of seawater permeated New Jersey towns far from the Atlantic coast.

Intense rains had lasted for hours — in just one of which a record 3.15 inches cascaded on Central Park, topping the previous high of 1.94 inches set just 11 days earlier during Hurricane Henri.

The storm’s severity caught officials off guard. “We did not know that between 8:50 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. last night that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls-level water to the streets of New York,” said Gov. Kathy C. Hochul, who declared a state of emergency in New York City on Thursday, in her second week in office. “Could that have been anticipated? I want to find out.”

Residents who had taken precautions against Henri said they felt “blindsided” by the wrath and suddenness of Ida, a full two levels down from hurricane force when it hit the northeast.

“I just don’t understand how it happened,” said Secoyah Brown, 30, owner of a two-month-old shop, Whisk & Whiskey, in the low-lying Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus. Three feet of water had surged into her basement.

At the height of the storm on Wednesday, she opened the store to 10 neighbors who needed temporary shelter.

Ms. Brown spent the night in the shop, watching the emergency storm alerts flashing on her smartphone and wondering what else the storm might bring. “It’s very, very stressful,” she said. “We just got past Henri and now this.”

In Passaic, N.J., Mayor Hector Lora posted on Facebook that 60 residents who were evacuated on Wednesday evening were returned home. But there were still people unaccounted for, and abandoned cars throughout the city. Plus the threat of more flooding when the Passaic River crests.

“We have any additional concern of flooding, but as of right now in our downtown area we’ve been able to send people back home,” the mayor said.

Travelers were trapped at airports, where more than 500 flights were canceled; they were stranded on highways that suddenly became impassable rivers; thousands were marooned at the U.S. Open tennis center in Queens, where rainwater gushed through the domed roof, suspending play. At Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Diego Schwartzman was playing Kevin Anderson in the tournament’s second round, officials announced that the subway was not running and the streets around the stadium were closed, said Lynn Moffat, 65, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

“People were getting texts on their phone,” she said, “and phone calls from people saying: ‘The roads are impassable. There’s trees down everywhere, there’s flooding everywhere, don’t go out.’”

Reporting was contributed by Kevin Armstrong, Lauren Hard, Sean Piccoli, Nate Schweber, Precious Fondren and Matthew Goldstein.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida tore through the New York City region on Wednesday night, dumping record rain and creating flooding in the five boroughs and New Jersey. Here’s a collection of photos of the storm.

Credit…Danielle Parhizkaran/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

In tennis, if something bad happens in the middle of a point — say, a cat runs across the court — then everyone involved agrees to “play a let.”

Suffice it to say, the United States Tennis Association would not mind playing a let over how it handled its evening session of tennis on Wednesday night. With a storm packing historic levels of rainfall, and heavy winds approaching the New York metropolitan area, the U.S.T.A. did nothing.

Even though the New York Mets, who play on the other side of the railroad tracks, canceled their Wednesday game on Tuesday night, the U.S.T.A. did not cancel its scheduled matches or tell fans to stay home.

The U.S.T.A. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade renovating the tennis center, including putting roofs on its two main stadiums, so it could keep at least some matches playing in inclement weather.

That is what the police department told tennis officials was on the way at a 4:30 p.m. meeting: “heavy rain.”

As the storm was zeroing in on New York City, nearly 22,000 people descended on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, many of them arriving by public transportation, even though cancellations of matches on field courts began at 5:30 p.m., and at 6:10 p.m. all matches on uncovered courts were postponed.

The U.S.T.A. opened the grounds to evening session ticket holders at 6:30 p.m. An hour later, it was clear the strength of the storm had far surpassed what the tennis officials had thought.

By the early evening, thunderous rain pounded the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the wind blew rain sideways into Louis Armstrong Stadium, forcing officials to stop play there at 8:15 p.m. Shortly after 9 p.m. the stadium was deemed unplayable and fans were sent into Ashe.

Since the roof of the stadium was closed, fans were not asked to leave.

Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the U.S.T.A., said the organization conducts briefings twice a day with police and continuously tracks the weather and its potential impact on the tournament. “Yesterday the ongoing forecast called for heavy rains over the course of the late afternoon and into the night. The U.S.T.A. also conducts daily briefings with the N.Y.P.D. at 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The U.S.T.A. was not advised to cancel the evening session at these times.”

When the National Weather Service issued the first flash flood warning in New York City history, just before 9:30 p.m., officials decided to continue play rather than send fans out into the storm. Before long, rail and subway service was severely delayed or suspended and roads around the tennis center had become flooded, though the No. 7 train ultimately did provide service through the end of the matches.

At lease eight U.S.T.A. employees spent the night at the tennis center. Countless fans made treacherous journeys home.

Lynn Moffat, 65, of Sleepy Hollow, stayed late into the night, and watched as everyone around her got messages and phone calls from people saying, “‘The roads are impassable. There’s trees down everywhere, there’s flooding everywhere, don’t go out,’” she said.

Ms. Moffat attended the match with her brother, and said that after pressuring tennis officials to let them stay until the rain cleared, they made a two-hour trip through Manhattan to get a friend home. “I’ve never seen devastation like what I saw last night,” she said. “I’ve been through 9/11. I’ve been through snow storms. You would see dozens and dozens of cars all banged up and turned around or underwater, I mean it was just phenomenal.”

Rit Bottorf, 38, of Prospect Heights, was also at Arthur Ashe Stadium with his mother. Mr. Bottorf said that once the 7 train was running again, they made it to Times Square just as trains stopped running. “There were people just like, sitting and laying on the ground because there was no train service, they had no way to get home,” he said. “I was able to get an Uber at the last second for the last leg of the trip.

Andrea Joffe, 38, stayed at the tennis center until 1:30 a.m.

She said she had no idea how bad the weather was because she hadn’t been outside for hours and had not received alerts.

When the tennis ended she ordered an Uber, but when she went outside to meet her driver, police told her the park was flooded and cars could not get through.

“They ended up putting us on a huge police bus and taking us outside the park,” she said. “Even then it was very difficult to find your Uber because around the space where we were waiting, everything was flooded.”

She ended up connecting with a driver and paying $300 to get to her home in White Plains, a journey that usually costs a third of that price. “It was such a scary ride. There were people driving the wrong way on the highway because it was flooded, and you couldn’t pass the cars that were abandoned,” she said. “I definitely prayed.”

Credit…Johnny Miller

The image struck Johnny Miller right away: A hooded delivery man waded through waist-deep water, clutching someone’s takeout order in a white plastic bag and wheeling his electric bicycle, while all around him people in cars waited for firefighters to rescue them.

Mr. Miller, 40, a freelance photographer, captured the scene on video, as he stood at the intersection of North 11th and Roebling Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 10:02 p.m. on Wednesday getting soaked by the ferocious storm. It stood out to him as a vivid example of the city’s economic inequality.

“Seeing this guy push his bicycle past these people in Mercedes to deliver Chinese food just turned my stomach,” Mr. Miller said. “Some of us have the privilege to not work during a disaster and some of us don’t.”

He tweeted the clip from his account Unequal Scenes, which documents poverty and inequality around the globe: “And through it all! @Grubhub delivery still out there bringing your dinner,” he wrote, though he noted that he was unsure if the person worked for Grubhub or a different delivery service.

The clip immediately began to spread, and has since been viewed over six million times.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared the video, urging people not to order delivery during the storm: “If it’s too dangerous for you, it’s too dangerous for them,” she wrote. “Raid your cabinets or ask a neighbor for help.”

Others, including Eliza Orlins, a former candidate for Manhattan district attorney, and the sports journalist David Aldridge echoed that plea. “You can’t have a bowl of cereal for dinner on a night like this??” Mr. Aldridge wrote.

By midday Thursday, more than 10 news organizations had reached out to Mr. Miller offering money to license the clip, he said. He intends to contribute the funds, more than $1,700 so far, to the delivery man in the film — but first he has to determine his identity.

“I really hope I can find him,” Mr. Miller said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency early Wednesday morning for New York City and many surrounding counties.
Credit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

For Kathy C. Hochul, the newly installed governor of New York, the fallout from Ida’s torrential rains will be the first major test of her ability to respond to an immediate crisis.

Ms. Hochul, who succeeded Andrew M. Cuomo last week after he resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, has already begun to pull the levers of government to respond to the reports of floods and power outages.

Early on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul declared a state of emergency in New York City and many of its surrounding counties on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, to give local officials more flexibility to quickly respond to the storm’s disruptions.

Later, at a briefing in Queens with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as other elected officials, she said that officials were caught off guard by the ferocity of the rainfall.

“We did not know that between 8:50 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls-level water to the streets of New York,” Ms. Hochul said. “Could that have been anticipated? I want to find out.”

She added, “There were warnings, tornado warnings all throughout the evening, but I’ll see whether or not more could have been done.”

Ms. Hochul said that she had spoken with President Biden, who “offered any assistance” as New York begins to assess the extent of the damage. And she said that she had directed the Department of Financial Services to get in touch with residents whose homes were flooded to help them file insurance claims to receive reimbursements for the damages.

Ms. Hochul said that while the state had learned valuable lessons from Hurricane Sandy, the street-level flash floods that occurred on Wednesday night underscored the city’s vulnerabilities, adding the possibility of such floods “were unknown before.”

At a subsequent briefing on Long Island, Ms. Hochul defended the state’s response, claiming that projections had underestimated the amount of rain that fell in the region.

“We talked to the meteorologists,” Ms. Hochul said. “They do their best predictions, but this is not the only place in the country where people have been stunned by a turn of events.”

Before the briefings, Ms. Hochul had gone on a media blitz to provide updates of the storm’s effects following reports of inundated subway stations and multiple deaths, urging people to stay off the roads and avoid any unnecessary travel.

Near midnight on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul went on CNN and NY1. By 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, she appeared on those news channels again, as well as two local radio stations.

“We knew there was a storm coming, but that was actually unprecedented and now we’re still dealing with the aftermath and the loss of life is definitely heartbreaking,” Ms. Hochul told WINS (1010).

In many ways, her response to the extensive storm damage will provide a real-time sampling of how Ms. Hochul preforms as the state’s highest executive in a high-pressure situation, and shed light on her leadership style as she seeks to work with local officials and comfort distressed New Yorkers.

Ms. Hochul’s response may offer a study in contrasts to Mr. Cuomo, who basked in his role as crisis manager. But Mr. Cuomo drew criticism for favoring a top-down approach to governing in which he would often overrule local officials and hold storm briefings without Mr. de Blasio, his political nemesis.

“The report was three to six inches over the course of a whole day, which was not a particularly problematic amount,” Mr. de Blasio said during the briefing on Thursday. “That turned into the biggest single hour of rainfall in New York City history with almost no wind.”

Ms. Hochul was originally scheduled to hold an event in Yonkers on Wednesday morning to sign the state’s recently extended eviction moratorium into law, but her office canceled the appearance shortly after declaring the state of emergency.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City, said he was getting reports of flooding in areas not usually prone to flood damage.
Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Eric Adams, who as the Democratic nominee is the likely next mayor of New York City, expressed alarm over the devastation he saw in hard-struck areas from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

In television interviews late on Wednesday and on Thursday, he described his shock. Mr. Adams said he had witnessed flooding in Brooklyn that he hadn’t seen before, including flooding on a ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge.

“I had to assist some of the motorists,” Mr. Adams said. He called on New Yorkers to help their neighbors and said, “It’s real that global warming is here.”

Mr. Adams said that he normally expects flooding in coastal parts of Brooklyn, like Coney Island, but that he was getting reports of inundations in many other neighborhoods as well.

“I have never witnessed something like this,” Mr. Adams said.

On Twitter, he offered condolences to New Yorkers whose family members had died in the flooding.

At one point in his televised appearances, Mr. Adams stressed that the devastation was “a real wake-up call to all of us how we must understand how this climate change is impacting us.” He spoke briefly about the need for improved infrastructure and “new solutions” and the need to “think differently” about how to respond to climate change.

But his environmental platform has not been a focal point of his mayoral campaign. The Democratic primary he won was largely focused on how to deal with rising crime.

Mr. Adams did release a plan on Earth Day to combat climate change by upgrading the electric grid to renewable energy and focusing on wind and solar projects that would help create jobs and help low income communities most affected by climate change.

“Eric has called for significant changes to how we approach resiliency — including a comprehensive citywide process to determine where we need to invest in coordination with our state and federal partners and metrics for tracking the number of people at risk of injury from a flood,” said Evan Thies, a spokesman for Mr. Adams.

The near-certitude that he will be New York’s next mayor was evident. Just before midnight, Don Lemon, a CNN host, welcomed Mr. Adams as the mayor-elect before quickly correcting himself.

“Excuse me. Mayor nominee,” Mr. Lemon said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

During a CNN appearance on Thursday, Mr. Adams was asked what people should do if they were trapped in the subway. Mr. Adams, a former transit police officer, told people to wait for help from emergency officials.

His spokesman, Mr. Thies, said that Mr. Adams was speaking from his personal experience.

“Eric’s a first responder, first and foremost,” he said. “In crises, he uses his training as a public safety officer, his resources as borough president, and his knowledge as a lifetime New Yorker to make sure people are getting the help they need and government is responding in real time.”

Before the storm, Mr. Adams was scheduled to appear with Gov. Kathy C. Hochul in Brooklyn but the event was canceled as the governor planned a news conference with Mr. de Blasio.

Mr. Adams appeared at the news conference with the governor and the mayor, but did not speak.


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The New York area was under a state of emergency on Thursday after the remnants of Hurricane Ida led to at least eight deaths and disrupted subway service.CreditCredit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

Record levels of rain fell across the New York City area on Wednesday as the remains of Hurricane Ida moved through. Here are the total amounts measured by the National Weather Service between 4 a.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday at locations across the region.

  • Central Park: 7.19 inches

  • Kennedy International Airport: 2.77 inches

  • Long Island Mac Arthur Airport: 2.63 inches

  • Farmingdale, Republic Airport, N.Y.: 2.01 inches

  • Shirley, Brookhaven Airport, N.Y.: 1.84 inches

  • Westhampton Beach, Francis S. Gabreski Airport: 1.48 inches

  • Newark Liberty International Airport: 8.44 inches.

  • Somerville, Somerset Airport, N.J.: 2.92 inches

  • Trenton, Mercer County Airport, N.J.: 5.6 inches

A mobile vaccination site set up in Brooklyn in July. 
Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mobile coronavirus testing sites in New York City were reopening on Thursday as the area worked to recover from the flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Some vaccination sites also remained closed or with delayed openings, the city’s alert system said.

The city urged people seeking vaccinations to call ahead or check on its vaccine finder website before heading out, particularly as public transportation remains limited.

Overall, public and private city hospitals reported minimal storm damage and relatively normal operations as they dealt with both storm-related problems and the pandemic.

“Our facilities sheltered some community members through the storm, and today our social workers are connecting any patients affected with relevant community resources,” said Chris Miller, a spokesman for the city’s public hospital system.

A Northwell Health spokeswoman said some elective surgeries in Manhattan were being postponed because of staffing issues caused by public transportation problems, but that all of its hospitals were open.

The city is still dealing with a virus surge caused by the Delta variant, with an average of about 1,800 cases per day. Hospitalizations, however, have remained well below previous peaks. About 885 people are currently hospitalized in New York City for Covid-19, according to state data, compared to more than 12,000 in the spring of 2020.

All city-run virus testing sites will also be closed for Labor Day, the city announced, unlike earlier in the pandemic, when testing sites remained open on major holidays.

Adam Shrier, a spokesman for the city’s Test and Trace Corps, said the rainfall had prevented one city-run testing site, at St. James Recreation Center on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, from opening on Thursday. But other sites were open as usual, and by noon on Thursday the city’s fleet of more than 40 mobile testing units was operational, Mr. Shrier said.

“Our staff are going above and beyond to continue their critical work with minimal disruption, as they have through inclement weather several times before,” Mr. Shrier wrote in an email. “It is our priority to provide no-cost, convenient testing options to patients across the city, a mission that is more important than ever as New Yorkers recover from the impact of this storm.”

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey surveys homes damaged by the storm in the Mullica Hill area.
Credit…Joe Lamberti/Camden Courier-Post, via Associated Press

Gov. Philip D. Murphy said he asked President Biden to declare the state a major disaster Thursday afternoon, shortly after he viewed the wreckage left by Hurricane Ida in southern New Jersey.

“We’ll continue to work with our federal partners to meet the needs of our people and businesses,” he said on Twitter.

Mr. Biden said on Thursday that he had reached out to Mr. Murphy and Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and promised them federal aid.

“I made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that’s needed,” he said.

Mr. Murphy spent the morning in Harrison Township, a southern New Jersey suburb in Gloucester County, where tornadoes destroyed and damaged stretches of houses. Two large farms were devastated by the storm, including one that lost 100 of its cows, Louis Manzo, the mayor of Harrison, told reporters Thursday morning.

Mr. Murphy called the storm an “unspeakable, extraordinary event” that should serve as a reminder of the effects of climate change.

“There is no other way to put it,” Mr. Murphy said as he stood in front of homes in Mullica Hill that were destroyed by tornadoes Wednesday night. “The world is changing. These storms are coming in more frequently, with more intensity.”

He said that any funding that comes from the federal government from the infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month would go to building defenses against future climate disasters.

Stephen M. Sweeney, the president of the State Senate, joined the governor and other local and state officials who surveyed the damage, and said Gloucester County looked like “a bomb hit in some places.”

“Anyone who is a global warming denier, take a look at what’s going around,” said Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat whose district covers Gloucester Township. “These things are getting stronger and there is more damage. We’ve got to do something.”

People waiting for a bus in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The remnants of Hurricane Ida moved into New England on Thursday.
Credit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

The remnants of Hurricane Ida swept across parts of southern New England on Thursday, flooding streets and homes but not causing the catastrophic damage that just hours earlier had paralyzed the New York City area and led to the deaths of at least two dozen people.

The storm dumped more than nine inches of rain on New Bedford, Mass., and nearly seven inches on Middletown, Conn., while Portsmouth, R.I., was drenched with more than eight inches of rain and about four inches fell on Hudson, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

In Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod, a tornado touched down at about 1:45 a.m., with winds of about 75 miles per hour, the Weather Service said.

The tornado caused minor damage to one house and some tree damage, but no one was injured, according to Lt. Peter Benson of the Dennis Police Department. “From talking to the people in the home, they realized what was going on and they sheltered in the basement,” he said.

In North Kingstown, R.I., firefighters evacuated 15 people from an apartment complex where storm water had come out of the electrical outlets, the fire chief, Scott Kettelle, said. No one was injured, he said, but two first-floor apartments had water damage.

Concerns about storm water runoff and overflowing sewers prompted the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to close shellfish harvesting in Narragansett Bay and in coastal salt ponds. Sewer water and storm water runoff can contaminate oysters and other shellfish, which are prized delicacies in the state.

In Portsmouth, R.I., the flooding caused a road to crack apart and buckle, and water service in the area was “extremely limited,” the police there said.

In Waltham, Mass., the police shared an image of several school buses submerged in floodwater while the police in Bristol, R.I., shared a photo of submerged cars.

In Northbridge, Mass., roughly 43 miles southwest of Boston, the police reported that the Blackstone River had flooded backyards and had reached roads.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said it had been in contact with communities across the state to determine the extent of the damage.

“At this time, the observed damage is mostly street flooding and other minor flooding as well as trees/power lines down resulting in scattered power outages,” the agency said in a statement.

At 11 a.m., Amtrak announced that all service between Washington and Boston had been canceled for the day.

The Weather Service had warned of life-threatening flash flooding in urban areas, including on highways and below underpasses, and in areas near streams and small rivers.

Neil Mello, chief of staff to the mayor of New Bedford, said that despite the report that nine inches of rain had fallen there, most of the city had received about five inches.

The Fire Department was busy overnight pumping out flooded basements, he said, and some low-lying intersections had flooded. But “compared to winter storms and other storm events, the impact on the city traffic-wise and power-wise was pretty modest,” Mr. Mello said.

Several rivers in Connecticut had approached or had crested above moderate flood stage, the Weather Service said, including the Mount Hope River in Warrenville, the Quinnipiac River in Southington and the North Branch Park River in Hartford.

Although the rainfall had moved out of the area by the middle of Thursday, there were still many flooded roads throughout southern New England.

“It will take time for the water to recede in these areas,” the Weather Service in Boston warned on Thursday morning. “Do not attempt to cross any flooded roads this morning. Turn around don’t drown!”

Rhode Island has already seen two tropical storms make landfall this hurricane season: Henri last month, and Elsa in July.

Abandoned cars in Lodi, N.J., on Thursday.
Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Heavy rains and flooding in New Jersey on Wednesday night led some desperate drivers to abandon their cars on roadways, prompting the authorities to ask for help on Thursday removing them.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation said on Twitter that it had asked state, county and local police to remove those vehicles from state and interstate roadways.

“Stay Home, Stay Safe,” the department said on Twitter. The department said it could not immediately provide additional information about the number of vehicles that were abandoned.

On Thursday morning, dozens of abandoned vehicles sat along the shoulders of Route 3 in the northern part of the state, Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City, and the Garden State Parkway, their hazard lights blinking.

Several cars were facing the wrong direction against the flow of traffic as police cars pulled up beside them.

By Thursday afternoon, many of the cars remained stranded.

All interstate highways were open, according to the Department of Transportation, but many state highways remained partly closed because of flooding, downed trees, and wires and debris on the roadways, said James Barry, a department spokesman.

“The department is still assessing damage,” he said in an email. “In some areas it is not possible to evaluate or begin repairs until the floodwaters recede.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said the state would review the messaging system to try to understand why people were driving even after alerts went out about tornadoes and flash flooding.

“The alerts did go out,” he told reporters Thursday morning. “There were too many cars on the road. Thank God most of them were abandoned and people got out safely, but that was not the case for everyone.”

In Hillsborough, two people were killed after they became trapped in their vehicles, said Pam Borek, a spokeswoman for the town in Somerset County.

The town’s fire department spent hours Thursday morning rescuing people who were stranded in their cars, she said.

In Paterson, Tiffany Davis, 36, walked outside her three-story building early Thursday morning to survey the damage of the storm on Governor Street, a block from the fast-flowing Passaic River.

A 21-foot boat, still on its trailer but unattached to a vehicle, stood in the middle of the road.

A sedan that had been moved by the rushing waters was pressed against her neighbor’s house. The air smelled like sewage.

She pointed to eight vehicles that had been stranded on a gravel and grass lot by her apartment.

“Every car in that lot is finished,” Ms. Davis said.


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