New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency early Thursday about an hour after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared one due to what he called "an historic weather event ... with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads" as remnants of Hurricane Ida raced up the East Coast.
The downpours were being blamed for at least five deaths — four in New York City and a 70-year-old man Passaic, New Jersey Mayor Hector Lora said was swept away by floodwaters. He said he had unconfirmed reports of additional deaths. Divers were searching for other possible victims of people who needed to be rescued.
Lora ordered the evacuation of residents in downtown Passaic due to concern about the rising level of the Passaic River and a high tide at around 5 a.m.
De Blasio said approximately 5,300 customers were without power.
The band of severe weather also caused the FAA to issue a "ground stop" at all three New York City-area airports. New York City subways were shut and the Long Island Railroad suspended service.
The Hochul and de Blasio declarations came on the heels of the first flash flood emergency for parts of the city that the National Weather Service New York office ever issued. It included Manhattan, Brooklyn and the borough of Queens.
The New York office tweeted that the difference between a more common Flash Flood Warning and Flash Flood Emergency was that, "This was an exceedingly rare event with 6-10" of rainfall falling over a several hour period. Take these warnings (and emergencies) seriously!! "
The flash flood emergency for the city was itself only the second that the NWS New York office ever declared. The first came an hour earlier, for northern New Jersey. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency late Wednesday.
The NWS issued a flash flood emergency for parts of Connecticut as the front end of the system moved into New England.
New York City's famed Central Park got 3.15 inches of rain between 8:51 p.m. and 9:51 p.m., breaking a record set in 1913 for the most ever for an hour in the city, according to CBS News weather producer David Parkinson.
Newark Liberty International Airport's air traffic control tower was evacuated amid tornado warnings.
"All flight activity is currently suspended & travelers are strongly advised to contact their airline for the latest flight & service resumption information," the airport tweeted. "Passengers are being diverted from ground-level flooded areas."
Video captured by Camilo Henao showed subway flooding at 23rd Street in Manhattan:
Video tweeted Wednesday night shows major flooding in Queens:
The same storm band traveled across Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey earlier Wednesday, with reports of tornadoes in Maryland and New Jersey. Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday as a monster.