At least 44 people died in New York and its surroundings hit by torrential rains and historic and flash floods overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, according to a new report established Thursday evening.
In the American economic and cultural megalopolis, the police have counted at least 13 dead, including several people probably trapped and drowned in their basements, rudimentary and sometimes unsanitary housing, built at the foot of buildings in Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn. Firefighters rescued hundreds of residents.
Just north of Manhattan in the upscale seaside Westchester County, which was still hemmed in by muddy, brackish water Thursday night, one of its officials, George Latimer, told CNN that three people who had attempted to get out of their car also likely drowned. A traffic police officer died in the neighboring state of Connecticut.
But the worst toll is for New Jersey, a state that faces New York, with “at least 23 people who lost their lives,” said Governor Phil Murphy. Most of the victims were taken by surprise and trapped in their car and probably drowned, the official said. Finally, near Philadelphia, four people died, according to local authorities.
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Streets, avenues, expressways were suddenly transformed into torrents, both in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens and in Westchester County, north of the city. In this upscale seaside county, dozens of vehicles were still submerged in the early morning and houses with finished basements were devastated by muddy waters, sometimes rising up to 60 centimeters.
The gigantic New York subway system was at a standstill on Thursday morning, after many stations were flooded. The NWS, the American weather service, recorded an absolute record of 80 millimeters of rain in one hour in Central Park.
>> The images of the floods in the New York subway:
US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in New York state, announcing federal aid to help the region deal with the damage affecting potentially some 20 million residents, a the White House said in a statement on Thursday.
Thursday morning, while many New Yorkers mopped up their cellars, several voices attributed this event to climate change. “Global warming is upon us and it will get worse and worse if we do nothing,” warned Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
A first in New York
According to the NWS, this state of emergency due to flash floods is a first in the history of the megalopolis, already hit in October 2012 by Hurricane Sandy.
Impressive tornadoes and flooding were also seen in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. In New Jersey, a state of emergency has also been declared by Governor Phil Murphy. One death was reported there.
At the end of August, New York and its region had already been affected by storm Henri. The bad weather on August 21 had prematurely ended a major concert given in Central Park, supposed to symbolize the return to a more festive life after the Covid-19 pandemic
>> Traffic paralyzed by torrential rains: