WEATHER (September 2, 2021)— Three days after making landfall in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, what was left of Ida advanced northward across the Northeast as a tropical rainstorm unloading more than a month’s worth of rain just a few hours into September.
Ida also spun up several damaging twisters in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey that left trails of destruction that almost looked similar to portions of the Gulf Coast.
The Wednesday morning commute ground to a halt in some areas of Pittsburgh as tropical downpours caused creeks to jump out of their banks and onto nearby roadways. More than 40 people had to be rescued from a school bus that was trapped in a situation like this, accounting for a handful of all of the water rescues conducted across the Steel City.
Farther east, a flash flood emergency was issued for Johnstown, Pennsylvania, after a nearby dam reached capacity and was overflowing downstream. The dam did not break, but as much as 1 million gallons of water was gushing out of the dam’s spillway, according to The Tribune-Democrat. Thousands of people downstream of the dam were urged to evacuate, while the danger brought back memories of flooding disasters of the past from the Johnstown area.
This was just the first flash flood emergency of the day. Several more were issued in eastern Pennsylvania later in the afternoon and evening as heavy rain created life-threatening situations, including one near Gettysburg and another around Doylestown.
Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was one of the wettest spots across the region with Ida delivering nearly 10 inches of rain to the town. This is more than two times the normal rainfall in Ephrata for all of September, which is typically around 4.8 inches.
Farther south and east, the primary threat from Ida was not the rain, but the risk of severe weather.
Eight Dead In New Jersey
Eight people were killed in flooding across New Jersey, with two others also feared swept away.
Five residents of an apartment complex in Elizabeth were found dead in the aftermath of the flooding, according to a city spokesperson.
Oakwood Plaza is across from the Elizabeth Fire Department headquarters, which was inundated with eight feet of water, destroying fire equipment and apparatus.
Rescuers have been checking the rent roll and going door-to-door through the entire apartment complex to make sure there are no other bodies found.
A person in a car was killed after becoming trapped in six feet of floodwaters in Passaic, after the Passaic River flooded, prompting evacuations of 60 residents to City Hall.
According to a preliminary investigation, firefighters and rescue crews pulled a 26-year-old man and his 66-year-old mother from the submerged car at Passaic Avenue and Lackawanna Place in what the mayor described as a heroic effort but were unable to save their 70-year-old husband and father, who drowned.
New Jersey Mayor Describes Tornado Damage
The mayor of Harrison Township, New Jersey, spoke to The Weather Channel late Wednesday night about the tornado damage in Mullica Hill where some homes were left in splintered ruin.
“We have several residents who have been in the path directly and therefore had their owns home leveled and others in close proximity with hardly any damage at all,” Mayor Lou Manzo said.
“There were a few that needed to be rescued for lack of a better term from their home because they had sheltered in the basements and the entire foundation of their house had shifted or had come down. We are only by the grace of god lucky enough to this point that there was only one injury that required going to the hospital.”
The town is in Gloucester County, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.
Bridge Collapsed In New Jersey
A New Jersey citizen tweeted “Bridge collapse in County Road in Demarest NJ.”
Baggage Area Flooded at Newark Airport
Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed at Newark Liberty International Airport, where video posted at about 9:30 p.m. by WABC-TV showed a baggage handling area underwater. Travelers at airports around New York City were advised to check with their airlines for the latest flight information. The air traffic control tower at the airport was temporarily evacauted due to a tornado warning, local media reported. Workers have since returned.
Parking lots at the airport were shut down due to flooding.
Obtained by EWN— Bill Ritter (@billritter7) September 2, 2021
Newark Airport Terminal B.
Told Terminal C is also flooded. pic.twitter.com/0fR6AFBWmT
More than a dozen tornado warnings had been issued across northern Virginia, eastern Maryland, southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey by late Wednesday evening as rain and thunderstorms on the southern edge of the system started to swirl.
Annapolis, Maryland, was hit by a tornado shortly after 2 p.m. EDT that caused substantial damage and thousands of power outages.
No major injuries were been reported, according to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “We are working with Anne Arundel County and City of Annapolis officials to assess the damage and determine what further resources are needed on the ground,” Hogan said on Wednesday afternoon.
By Wednesday evening, thousands were without power across the state along with Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia as the storms continued to roll though.
A likely tornado touched down north of Philadelphia near the town of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, late Wednesday afternoon. Damage has been reported, including roofs blown off of houses. Another tornado was confirmed northwest of Gloucester County, New Jersey, on Wednesday evening which caused major damage to houses and buildings. It is unknown if there were any life-threatening injuries or fatalities with either tornado.
At least seven people were reportedly injured after a post office roof in Kearny, New Jersey, collapsed with occupants still inside the building.
The ratings of these twisters will not be determined until the National Weather Service is able to send a team to the location of the tornado reports after Ida has passed.
By Wednesday evening, New York and New Jersey were seeing their share of flash flooding. The National Weather Service’s office in New York City reported having rainfall rates of at least 3 to 5 inches an hour in northeastern New Jersey and portions of New York City. The Newark Airport reported 3.4 inches between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT.
Central Park, New York, observed 3.10 inches of rainfall within just one hour, from 8:51 p.m. to 9:51 p.m. EDT.
The office issued a flash flood emergency for New York City, Brooklyn and Queens around 9:30 p.m., extending until 11:30 p.m. EDT. This was the first flash flood emergency issued for New York City, and the second flash flood emergency issued by the office. The first one had been issued only an hour prior for northeastern New Jersey.
Heavy rain continued in the New York City for several hours after that. Numerous roads were flooded and water rescues were performed. Mayor Hector Lora of nearby Passaic, New Jersey, said that one person died due to drowning inside a vehicle. Other occupants of the vehicle were rescued by emergency crews. Later, the mayor said that “multiple fatalities” had occurred throughout Passaic with people trapped in cars, although further details were not immediately available.
Multiple water rescues were reported in other towns in northern New Jersey and in New York City.
As the rain continued to pour down, numerous roads had to be closed and a state of emergency was declared in many communities, including Hoboken, New Jersey, and Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Then, just after 11:30 p.m. EDT, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency for New York City itself. In fact, even a police officer had to be rescued by other officers. In addition, subway service was suspended and a travel ban was put into effect in the city, which was due to last until 5 a.m. EDT Thursday morning. Furthermore, all Amtrak services between Philadelphia and Boston were canceled through 9 a.m. EDT Thursday morning.
After a state of emergency was declared by New York City’s mayor, a state of emergency was also declared by New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul.
Farther north, buildings at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, lost power due to flooding.
Overall, more than 45,000 customers were without power in New York state, with another 20,000 in Connecticut and over 72,000 in New Jersey, according to PowerOutage.US.
More flooding will be possible across southern New England as Ida’s heavy rain soaks the region before moving off the coast.
Residents across the region will have a few days to dry out and clean up from the flooding and tornadoes with rain-free weather in the forecast for much of the Northeast through Saturday.
Through It All
Grubhub delivered dinner during the flooding and heavy rain.
The New York Fire Department rescued people from the flood waters across Brooklyn.
The outfield was underwater at the baseball Stadium.
The outfield is underwater at the Stadium. pic.twitter.com/o645vwwtON— Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) September 2, 2021
Severe flooding reported across the Bronx. And about a dozen of people were trapped in vehicles on Bronx River Pkwy at Westchester Avenue.
More on Ida: New York ABC 7 and the National Weather Channel contributed to the article.