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Emergency declared in New York City as Ida batters, floods region

A “flash flood emergency” was issued for the first time in New York City as heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida lashed the region late Wednesday, spawning at least one tornado and causing flooding, officials said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency and told people to stay off the roads and the subways.

“We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,” de Blasio tweeted.

Central Park saw more than 3 inches of rain in one hour, the National Weather Service said. Video showed flooded streets in the city.

The New York City Fire Department was responding to rescue calls in all five boroughs, a department spokesperson said. The effort including using high-axle vehicles bought after Superstorm Sandy.

New York City’s subway system was either severely limited or suspended because of the weather and flooding, the transit agency said.

New York City airports LaGuardia and JFK reported flight disruptions, and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport said it was experiencing severe flooding and suspended all flight activity

Video showed flooded streets and some disabled vehicles in Elmhurst, Queens.

The weather service retweeted video of Brooklyn that showed cars driving through water that resembled a river with an urgent warning: “This water is too deep to drive through. Turn Around Don’t Drown!!”

Heavy flooding in Newark, NJ on Sept. 1, 2021.Courtesy Nick Kurczewski

New Jersey’s governor declared a state of emergency due to the severe weather. “Stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

The mayor of Passaic, New Jersey, told NBC New York that at least one person had drowned in the city where there was said to be 4 to 5 feet of water on the ground. The mayor declared a state of emergency.

Mayor Hector C. Lora livestreamed the scene as cars were submerged up to their headlights in a flooded section of the city of around 70,000. Some cars were struck in the middle of the street.

Passaic’s Deputy Chief of Police Louis Gentile said that all kinds of vehicles have gotten stuck, and warned residents not to be fooled by thinking they have a powerful car.

We have fire trucks stuck, we have ambulances stuck, we have people that are still stuck and not getting out of the water,” he said. “It’s very serious.”

At least one tornado struck Mullica Hill, New Jersey, forecasters said. At least nine homes were destroyed, NBC Philadelphia reported. There were reports of damage across southeast Pennsylvania Pennsylvania and in New Jersey, National Weather Service Meteorologist Sarah Johnson said, but survey teams will have to confirm if they were more tornadoes.

New Jersey Transit said rail service was suspended.

Soaking rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida prompted the evacuations of thousands of people Wednesday after water reached dangerous levels at a dam near Johnstown, a Pennsylvania town nicknamed Flood City.

Some areas near Johnstown, whose history includes several deadly floods, saw 5 inches or more of rain by mid-afternoon, an inundation that triggered an evacuation order for those downstream from the Wilmore dam.

Cambria County emergency management director and 911 center head Art Martynuska said the water level at the Wilmore dam reached a height that required evacuation.

Nearby Hinckston Run Dam was also being monitored but appeared stable by late afternoon, he said, by which time water levels at Wilmore dam were receding.

Gov. Tom Wolf said he was sending emergency responders to Bucks County, including National Guard high-water vehicles and an urban search-and-rescue team, in southeastern Pennsylvania following tornadoes and flooding.

Johnson, of the weather service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey, which also covers Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, said there were reports of as much as 7 inches of rain Wednesday.

Pennsylvania was blanketed with rain after high water drove some from their homes in Maryland and Virginia. The storm killed a teenager, two people were not accounted for and a tornado was believed to have touched down along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

The severe weather occurred as Post-Tropical Cyclone Ida, which hit Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, was causing heavy rainfall in the region.

The hurricane and its remnants knocked out power to hundreds of thousands in Louisiana and beyond and the storm is considered a factor in at least seven deaths.

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