State of Emergency Declared in NYC as Torrential Rains Flood Roads, Ground Flights

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
September 29, 2023New York

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency across parts of New York City after a potent rush-hour rainstorm swamped the city’s metropolitan area on Sept. 29. The storm has shut down parts of the subway system and delayed flights into LaGuardia Airport.

“I am declaring a State of Emergency in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and Long Island in response to the significant, dangerous rainfall that is currently impacting the region and is expected to continue for the next 20 hours,” the Democrat governor said in a statement.

Up to 5 inches of rain fell in some areas overnight, and as much as 7 inches more was expected throughout the day, Ms. Hochul said in a separate statement, urging New Yorkers to stay off the roads, remain vigilant, and follow safety protocols due to widespread dangerous travel conditions.

The New York City Emergency Management Department, meanwhile, has issued a travel advisory beginning Sept. 29 that goes through the morning of Sept. 30, pointing out that heavy downpours may result in the flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations.

“New York City will be under a flood watch starting tomorrow and we urge New Yorkers to prepare for heavy rain and potential flooding throughout Friday and Saturday morning,” New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said in a statement on Sept. 28.

“All New Yorkers need to exercise caution. If you must travel, consider using public transportation and allow for extra travel time, and if you must drive, do not enter flooded roadways,” he added. “If you live in a basement apartment, especially in a flood-prone area, be prepared to move to higher ground.”

Early on Sept. 29, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said in a post on X that there is only “extremely limited subway service available” due to heavy flooding, advising travelers to check the MTA’s website to see if service is running at your station.

According to the website, virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted, or running with delays as of 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 29, while two of the Metro-North Railroad’s three lines were suspended.

Flights into LaGuardia Airport were briefly halted early on Sept. 29 before being delayed because of water in the airport’s refueling area. In a statement on X, LaGuardia announced that all access to Terminal A—one of the airport’s three terminals—is currently closed until further notice.

The airport urged passengers to check with their airline before traveling.

Storm Strands People in Cars

Photographs and video footage posted on social media showed floodwater submerging vehicles on neighborhood streets and water drenching the inside of subway stations, disrupting morning traffic for millions of commuters in the most populous U.S. city as streets turned into small lakes.

NTD Photo
A motorist drives through a flooded street after heavy rains bring flooding across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, at the FDR Drive in Manhattan near the Williamsburg Bridge, in New York City, on Sept. 29, 2023. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
NTD Photo
A police officer from the NYPD Highway Patrol uses his mobile phone next to cars stuck in a flooded street after heavy rains bring flooding across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, at the FDR Drive in Manhattan near the Williamsburg Bridge, in New York City, on Sept. 29, 2023. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

On Sept. 29, some 18 million people in the New York metropolitan area and other major cities along the East Coast were under flood warnings, watches, and advisories from the National Weather Service.

Despite the warnings, public schools in New York City were open for the day. However, at least one suburban district, Bronxville in New York’s Westchester County north of the city, dismissed students early because of the worsening flooding.

Although there has been a break in the clouds, New York Mayor Eric Adams cautioned New Yorkers at a news briefing on Sept. 29 that the storm is not over yet and urged people to stay put if possible.

“It is not over, and I don’t want these gaps in heavy rain to give the appearance that it is over,” Mr. Adams said. The mayor also declared a state of emergency.

No storm-related deaths or critical injuries had been reported as of midday, city officials said. But residents struggled to get around the waterlogged metropolis.

Additionally, several towns and cities around New York City also experienced flooding, including Hoboken, New Jersey.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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