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Tracking Elsa: NYC Commuters Face Flooded Subway Stations, Roadways After Severe Thunderstorms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- From the roadways to the subways, parts of New York City looked straight out of a disaster movie Thursday.

Cell phone video shows water streaming down the steps of the 149th Street subway station.

Straphangers were waist-deep below ground at 157th Street in Washington Heights, wading through water just to escape the station.

Some tried using trash bags to walk through, but the ground was so slippery, commuters couldn't help but get soaked.

Above ground, the street was completely flooded.

"The concrete above ground does not absorb the water. The water comes through the vents down the stairs in those waterfalls, and then if the drains at the street level can't handle the water, it goes over the curb and makes things even worse," MTA Chair Sarah Feinberg said.

Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams responded to the video on Twitter, saying, "This is what happens when the MTA makes bad spending decisions for decades. We need congestion pricing [money] ASAP to protect stations from street flooding, elevate entrances and add green infrastructure to absorb flash storm runoff. This cannot be New York."

Above ground, roads were also underwater.

Flooding was so bad on the Major Deegan Expressway by 179th Street, more than a dozen people got trapped in their cars.

This evening, officers from the Disorder Control Unit responded to a major flood on the Major Deegan Expwy. With a...

Posted by NYPD on Thursday, July 8, 2021

"My sister was trying to warn me, but I said, 'No, I think we can make it through,'" Manhattan resident Sheila Young told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

But the two sisters, both retired school teachers, did not make it through.

"The car cut off," Young said. "Some of the other trucks started going by, and the car started swaying and floating ... I think I was hit a couple of times ... It was so crowded and people were so packed, especially behind us, that no emergency vehicles could get by at first."

Finally, police were able to drive up on a barrier truck and lift people to safety in the pouring rain.

"We would hoist them up onto the truck, whether someone was holding onto my belt and I was leaning over into the vehicle, or we got onto the car itself," NYPD Captain David Miller said.

Young nearly fell into the murky water.

"It was so wet. My sneakers, I was slipping, so I said, 'I'm gonna go into the water.' He said, 'No, no, I'm gonna hold you,'" she said.

"They were actually standing on my pants and my boots, trying to have grip, and I was just trying to keep them calm as much as possible," NYPD Officer Daniel Bergman said.

Eventually, everyone was safely brought back to dry land.

"It was a good day. Even though I may lose my car, it's still a good day," Young said.

All lanes reopened around 5:30 p.m.

Officers reiterated how dangerous it is to drive through flooding, especially when you cannot see how deep the water is or what is in it.

As for the subways, crews were still working to drain all the floodwaters Thursday night.

Stay with CBS2 News and for the latest storm coverage.

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