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Death Toll In NYC Climbs To At Least 13; Gov. Hochul Tours Damage, Promises Infrastructure Investments For Flood Mitigation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The death toll continues to rise in New York City, where at least 13 people have died in storm-related incidents after the remnants of Hurricane Ida slammed the Tri-State Area.

Many of the victims were killed when basements in Queens were flooded.

Earlier, the NYPD said a woman and her 22-year-old son were killed when a building partially collapsed in Jamaica, Queens. They were later identified as Phamatee Ramskriet, 43, and Khrishah Ramskreit, also known as Tara and Nicholas.

According to neighbors, they are survived by Phamatee's husband and other son, who were not in the apartment at the time.

Watch Andrea Grymes' report --

Neighbors said heavy rains flooded the street in what felt like less than a minute. Cars then drove through the flood, creating waves that crashed into the multi-family home on 183rd Street after breaking through the wall of the basement apartment.

"It filled up from the basement all the way up to the first floor," homeowner Amit Shivprasad said. "It was very scary, I'll tell you that. It was scary, very scary."


"I was standing on the porch right here, the wall broke open and the water started gushing down," said neighbor Mahen Singh, who watched the horrific flood reach at least four feet high. "Next thing, I heard a loud scream... It was devastating. I was right out here, I watched the whole thing... Nobody could even help them. They were very helpless."

"To have two people pass away from this is just devastating. He was a young kid. I used to see him out here playing with his friends. It's just a sad situation. We can't believe that happened," said Jennifer Mooklal.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro says his firefighters tried to save as many lives as they could during the storm, including that mother and her son.

"They did not hesitate. The first two trucks went into neck deep water and pulled one of the occupants out and began CPR. Unfortunately, that poor woman died at the hospital," Nigro said.

Six other deaths were reported in Queens. Three people, including a 2-year-old boy, were found dead inside a basement on 64th Street in Woodside.

There was a similar scene in Flushing, where another three people also died in a flooded basement on Peck Avenue off Kissena Boulevard.

Thursday morning, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said another flood victim was found in the backseat of a car that was involved in a crash on the Grand Central Parkway.

WATCH: NYPD Provides Update On Storm Damage, Rescue Efforts -- 

NYPD Provides Update On Ida Storm Damage, Rescue Efforts

The NYPD is providing an update on storm damage from the remnants of Ida and rescue efforts across New York City. Visit for the latest coverage.

Posted by CBS New York on Thursday, September 2, 2021


The NYPD says it rescued 166 people, and 25 families were relocated. Eighteen of those rescues happened as fans were leaving the U.S. Open.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reports, the water was rising inside the apartment of Emilio Flores at 120 Sherman Street in Inwood, and the NYPD raced into action.

Flores, who is a double amputee, was floated to safety, but when police got him out, they went back to rescue his dog, and tonight, everyone is safe.

"All our people in the emergency service unit, in the harbor unit and scuba unit are trained in water rescues," said NYPD Chief of Special Operations Harry Wedin.

Body camera video of one rescue shows police in Central Park carrying a livery driver to safety on the 65th Street Transverse.

In the Bronx, officers rescued a pregnant woman and her husband in a disabled car, then saved an elderly woman from waist-high water in her apartment.

The people who do this work wear dry suits, along with a life jacket on top, and they are usually in tight quarters making fit tricky rescues.

They also encounter floating garbage and many obstacles underwater, the biggest hazard being electric wires.

"I started doing this more than 50 years ago. Sometimes I think I've seen everything, but not last night. Listening to our radio, our scanner, in every borough of our city, our members were rescuing people minute to minute," Nigro said.

A day after the storm, the NYPD says they still can't say if everyone is accounted for.

"We're gonna continue to work hard throughout the day, throughout the evening to make sure we identify everybody's location," NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio toured the damage in Queens on Thursday.

"Families in mourning right now, we need to be there for them," de Blasio said.

"We're here today because of a devastating storm that shocked the people of this city, and even the morning after, we're still uncovering the true depth of the loss, the human loss," Hochul said. "Hard to imagine that people simply in their cars, in their homes, in their basements succumbed to the ravages of a brutal storm, and their families must just be in such pain this morning."

The governor noted the storm broke the record for most rainfall in New York City in a one-hour span that was just set last week as Hurricane Henri approached the Tri-State Area.

"That says to me that there are no more cataclysmic, unforeseeable events. We need to foresee these in advance and be prepared," said Hochul. "This is the first time we've had a flash flood event of this proportion in the City of New York and in the outlying areas. We haven't experienced this before, but we should expect it the next time."

The governor called for new investments in infrastructure to protect streets and the subway system from future storms, noting improvements made along the coast following Sandy.

"President Biden called, offered any assistance that the State of New York needs. I told him I'll take him up on that. What happens next, we'll be doing on the ground assessments with FEMA teams and our local partners," said Hochul.

Hochul will also planned to travel to Long Island.

States Of Emergency

Shortly after midnight Thursday, Gov. Hochul declared a state of emergency. She urged people to stay inside and avoid any unnecessary travel.

Mayor de Blasio also issued a state of emergency for New York City, where a travel ban was in effect for non-emergency vehicles until 5 a.m. Thursday.

"We're enduring an historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads," the mayor tweeted.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority service is severely limited after flood waters filled subways and buses, stranding riders on board.

The NYPD said people should to expect delays at major crossings and road closures.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency Wednesday night, saying it only was the second time they had ever issued such a warning and the first time they had issued it in the city.

President Joe Biden says he reached out to both Hochul and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to offer support from the federal government.

He also praised and thanked first responders and rescuers.

"People were trapped in subways, but the heroic men and women in the New York Fire Department rescued all of them. They were, they were trapped," Biden said. "There's a lot of damage, and I made clear to the governors that my team at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance as needed."

The president said he will continue to urge Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill to improve roads, bridges and sewer systems.

Stay with CBS2, CBSN New York and for more on the storm's aftermath. Andrea Grymes, Dick Brennan and Ali Bauman contributed to this report.

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