Ida-driven rain, flooding claim over 40 lives in US Northeast

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Vehicles are submerged on a waterlogged road in New York, the United States, Sept. 2, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Torrential rains, floods and tornadoes from storm Ida remnants claimed more than 40 lives across the northeast of the United States on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ida remnants dumped rain at sometimes unprecedented rates on Wednesday night in the region, triggering floods pouring into subway stations and submerging homes and vehicles on highways, videos on social media showed.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Thursday afternoon that 23 people died as a result of the storm, which made landfall in southern U.S. state Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday.

"The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles by flooding and were overtaken by the water," Murphy tweeted.

At least 12 people died in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Among them, four women, three men and a 2-year-old boy died in the basements of residential homes in separate flooding incidents in Queens, according to an NBC report, citing New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea.

Many commuters were stranded overnight in New York subway stations, some sleeping on benches with service suspended and no way to get to their destinations, according to local media reports.

Central Park at New York City on Wednesday recorded 3.15 inches of rainfall in just one hour, surpassing the previous recorded high of 1.94 inches in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri on Aug. 21.

There were three people reported killed in Pennsylvania, one in Maryland and one in Connecticut. Authorities also located the body of a Virginia resident missing in flooding earlier this week.

In the Philadelphia area, some streets were swamped, delaying the city's rail and bus services and causing thousands of rescues, according to a CNN report, citing state Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency early Thursday about an hour after New York City Mayor de Blasio declared one due to what he called a "historic weather event ... with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads" as Ida remnants raced up the East Coast.

"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," U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Thursday stressed the need to spend more on infrastructure and climate change given the extreme flooding in the New York metropolitan area.

"When you get two record rainfalls in a week, it's not just coincidence. Woe is us if we don't recognize these changes are due to climate change," said Schumer in a press briefing on Thursday morning.

Before moving to slam the U.S. Northeast, Ida had already wrecked widespread havoc in southern U.S. states Louisiana and Mississippi, leaving four people dead and hundreds of thousands of people with power outages.

Ida landed on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's destructive strike, tying with 2020's Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest ever to hit Louisiana. It was downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday afternoon and moved inland with torrential rain.

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