The New York City region is reeling from devastation caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which unleashed catastrophic flooding that left at least 20 people dead, triggered tornadoes and paralyzed transport services.
The waters swamped highways, airport terminals, baseball stadiums and subway stations. A dozen people died in Brooklyn and Queens. At least 11 others were killed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Tornadoes hit Maryland and New Jersey.
A dozen doomed New Yorkers, all but one trapped inside flash-flooded basement apartments, were killed when the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida unleashed a lethal summer storm across a rain-soaked city, authorities said Thursday.
The dead, including an autistic 14-month-old boy and an 86-year-old woman, became victims of catastrophic flooding after the devastating weather system dumped record-breaking rain on the boroughs.
Neighbors recounted horrifying tales of basements flooded from floor to ceiling in the blink of an eye, with the victims helpless to escape the surging waters.
The tiniest victim, little Lobsang Lama, perished with his immigrant parents inside their Queens basement home after they were trapped by fast-rising floodwaters. His father Ang Lama, 50, and mother Mingma Sherpa, 48, were also killed as the deadly flooding filled their Woodside home — and even the first-floor apartment above.
Ang Gelu Lama, 50, and his son, Lobsang Lama, 14 months, who died in the basement apartment of the home they shared on 64th st. and Laurel Hill Blvd. in Flushing, Queens. The boy’s mother also died.
Ang Gelu Lama, 50, and his son, Lobsang Lama, 14 months, who died in the basement apartment of the home they shared on 64th st. and Laurel Hill Blvd. in Flushing, Queens. The boy’s mother also died. “The baby was so cute,” said the little boy’s grief-stricken teacher Martha Suarez after arriving Thursday morning for her daily session with the child at the family’s home on 64th st. and Laurel Hill Blvd. “Just a happy boy, very nice family ... They didn’t call me, they didn’t cancel me, so I was coming as usual.”
The building owner, who lives on the third floor, received a desperate call for help from the doomed family in the downstairs apartment, said Deborah Torres, 38, who lives directly above the doomed family.
“The owner said, ‘Get out! Get out from the basement!’ And when she called again they never picked up,” Torres said.
The 84-year-old victim was found dead just before midnight Wednesday when her son came to the basement apartment on 84th St. near 55th Road in Elmhurst, cops said. Neighbors said the local streets were flooded as building residents tried in vain to rescue the doomed senior citizen.
“I guess they didn’t know where to find her,” said a neighbor on the second floor building. “Everyone’s rushing in, trying to get to her.”
First responders found an unresponsive mother and son in a flooded Hollis basement apartment after a wall gave way Wednesday, instantly filling the room with water before NYPD divers dramatically rescued another building resident at 11:15 p.m.
“These cops were giving their lives to get them,” Shivprafab said. “My son was scrambling to get down. He was already in, trying to get them, and the cops pulled him out. He would have died too.”
Ida would place fifth on the list of the most costly hurricanes to hit the U.S., behind Katrina, Harvey, Maria and Sandy.
Almost 170,000 customers on the U.S. East Coast had no power Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. Pennsylvania had the largest number of outages with about 78,000, followed by smaller numbers in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Flooded streets were complicating efforts to restore electricity.
“It’s very dangerous. Our trucks can’t move on these roads that are blocked by floodwaters,” Jamie McShane, a spokesman for New York utility Con Edison, said Thursday morning. “There were cars everywhere that have been abandoned, so it’s really hard to get around.”