Eleven people have been found dead so far after getting trapped in New York basements amid unexpected flash floods which started on Wednesday.
The chaotic weather, brought on by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, triggered torrential rain, a tornado warning and flash-flood emergencies in the city.
Residents had been urged to “get onto higher ground” in the early hours of the storm by the National Weather Service in New York.
Those who died after getting trapped in New York basements, which often serve as relatively affordable homes in one of America’s most expensive housing markets, were aged between two years old and 86.
According to the Associated Press, at least 13 died in the city in total due to the storm.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that “the price paid by some New Yorkers is horrible and tragic”, adding that it was a “horrible fate” for the storm’s victims.
Central Park experienced more than 3 inches of rain in 60 minutes on Wednesday, smashing all previous records for New York.
The amount of rain which fell across Wednesday in just the park would be enough to almost completely submerge the Statue of Liberty, according to the Reuters news agency.
The National Weather Service also issued its second ever Flash Flood Emergency to New York City, just an hour after it had declared one for New Jersey.
Mayor de Blasio announced a state of emergency for the city while Governor Kathy Hochul followed suit for the entire state, as did New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
New Yorkers were unable to use the subway as they become rapidly flooded, while Newark International Airport was out of action, cars trapped.
Ida has caused a further 23 deaths in New Jersey, after a tornado was confirmed in the area and in Pennsylvania – Murphy said the majority of deaths were caused by people getting stuck as their vehicles flooded.
Murphy added: “Please keep each and everyone of them and their families in your prayers and let’s hope that that number doesn’t go up. Please stay off the roads. We’re not out of this yet.”
A second tornado was then reported in Maryland’s Annapolis, stripping 2,500 of power.
Five people were reported dead in Pennsylvania and approximately 150,000 homes were still without power on Thursday.
There were deaths in Maryland too, after a teenager reportedly died trying to rescue his mother from a flooded flat, while more have been recorded in Connecticut and Virginia.
Ida has now been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but the extreme weather it brings continues to stun the US.
It first arrived in Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150mph, and triggered a power outage throughout parts of the state, including New Orleans.
Nine fatalities have been reported in Louisiana so far, although rescue efforts are still underway and the full effects of Ida are yet to be uncovered.
The incident itself is a stark reminder that the climate crisis has arrived.
President Joe Biden said: “This destruction is everywhere. It’s a matter of life and death and we are all in this together. This is one of the great challenges of our time but I’m confident we will meet it.”
US Rep for New Jersey, Tom Malinowski, also commented on Thursday: “Anybody who believes that it’s too expensive to stop climate change...had got to wake up to the fact that we cannot afford not to.”