IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Toddler among at least 22 dead as Ida batters New York, New Jersey with record rain and floods

New York City was under a rare flash flood emergency after a wind-driven deluge.
/ Source: NBC News

At least 22 people were killed as the remnants of Hurricane Ida battered New York and New Jersey with tornadoes, record rain and flooding that left the area deluged and under states of emergency on Thursday.

Videos on social media showed cars submerged on highways and water pouring into subway stations and homes after a wind-driven downpour shattered rainfall records and prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency for New York City.

Four women, three men and a 2-year-old boy died in five separate flooding incidents in the city, police said. In New Jersey, 14 other people were killed, including five residents at the Oakwood Plaza Apartments complex in Elizabeth and one person whose body was recovered in Passaic. It was unclear where the residents were or how they died, a spokesperson for Mayor Christian Bollwage confirmed to NBC News Thursday.

In Passaic, firefighters recovered the body from a vehicle that went underwater when it was caught in floodwaters near the Passaic River, the town’s mayor said.

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

In New York City, officials urged non-emergency vehicles to stay off the streets after a “travel ban” ended at 5 a.m. ET.

Image: A spectator walks through the flooded pavilion in front of Louis Armstrong Stadium
A spectator walks through the flooded pavilion in front of Louis Armstrong Stadium on day three of the 2021 U.S. Open tennisDanielle Parhizkaran / Reuters

Central Park and Newark, New Jersey, each saw more than 3 inches of rain in one hour — the most ever recorded in an hour there, NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said.

The daily rainfall total at Central Park was 7.13 inches Wednesday, breaking the previous record of 3.84 inches set in 1927, according to the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, Newark logged 8.41 inches of rain, surpassing its record of 2.22 inches in 1959.

Between 6 and 10 inches of rain fell over several hours, the National Weather Service said, and New York City streets were inundated with water.

The weather and flooding brought New York transit to a near standstill, with service suspended or severely limited across the subway system.

A rare tornado warning was issued for the Bronx and parts of Westchester on Wednesday night, while flights at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty airports were disrupted.

Dozens of matches at the U.S. Open were postponed earlier Wednesday as rain ripped through New York City.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency, which allows for state aid.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN Thursday there was “widespread damage that we’re seeing from Ida in the Northeast,” adding that the agency would begin assessing how severe the damage was to determine long-term recovery needs.

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

Passaic Mayor Hector C. Lora declared a state of emergency, one of several area cities to do so. He 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 Deputy Chief of Police Louis Gentile said that all kinds of vehicles had 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.”

Elizabeth, New Jersey’s fire headquarters was under 8 feet of water, according to the mayor’s spokesperson.

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 and in New Jersey, National Weather Service Meteorologist Sarah Johnson said, but survey teams will have to confirm if there were more tornadoes.

There were reports of damage across southeast Pennsylvania and in New Jersey, National Weather Service Meteorologist Sarah Johnson said, but survey teams will have to confirm if there were more tornadoes.

New Jersey Transit suspended all rail service Wednesday night and Thursday, while Amtrak suspended all trains between Philadelphia and Boston before 9 a.m. Thursday.

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 midafternoon, 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 of Pennsylvania said he was sending emergency responders to Bucks County, including National Guard high-water vehicles and an urban search-and-rescue team, in the southeastern past of the state 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.

In Maryland, a 19-year-old man died after flooding that displaced 150 people from an apartment building Wednesday morning, police said. There was also a suspected tornado that caused damage in Annapolis.

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 now considered a factor in more than a dozen deaths.

A version of this story originally appeared on