New York is the latest city to be hit by Hurricane Ida as its residents grappled with torrential rain, stay-at-home warnings and potential tornados on Wednesday night.
Reuters reported at least seven people have died in New York City, including a two-year-old boy, while another two died in New Jersey. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days.
More than three inches of rain fell in Central Park in just one hour, smashing all previous records.
The city also received its first ever flash-flood emergency warning from the National Weather Service (NWS) used for “exceedingly rare situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage”.
The NWS had issued its first ever flash-food emergency just an hour before, for Northeast New Jersey.
NYC’s Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency shortly before 11.30pm due to the “historic weather event” with “record breaking ran across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads”. He urged the public to “stay inside”.
A travel ban was issued between 1am and 5am on Thursday, while train service was “extremely limited if not suspended”.
The NWS in New York said: “We are seeing way too many reports of water rescues and stranded motorists. Do not drive through flooded roadways. You do not know how deep the water is and it is too dangerous.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul later told CNN: “New Yorkers are very concerned tonight and they’re scared.”
She added that she could not guarantee rescue workers would be able to reach anyone who left their homes and got caught up in the floods.
The weather service even issued a tornado warning for parts of the Bronx after 9pm.
Strong wind pushed rain into secure indoor buildings such as the Louis Armstrong Stadium, meaning the US Open Tennis Championships had to be suspended on Wednesday.
Ida has arrived just a month after Tropical Storm Henri broke all prior New York records after bringing 1.9 inches of rain within just an hour.
Away from NYC, all flights were suspended from Newark Liberty International Airport while passengers were diverted from ground-level flooded areas.
One person is believed to have died in Passaic, New Jersey, after being trapped in a car in the rising floodwaters and preparations were being made for evacuations after the Passaic River burst its banks.
Tornados erupted across parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware, while the NWS warned “flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter” and residents were urged to take cover immediately.
Fallen trees and downed wires posed a major threat and a power outage in parts of the northeast, and another tornado in Annapolis, Maryland left 2,500 people without power.
When in the southern states on Sunday, Ida’s winds reached 150mph per hour and left most of New Orleans without power. Authorities have confirmed seven deaths so far in relation to the storm, although rescue efforts are still underway.
Ida first hit Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane but it has since been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, weakening as it moved inland.
Even so, certain parts of the northeastern states have seen up to eight inches of rain in just 48 hours.