Four days after Ida plowed ashore near New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane, the storm's remnants brought record rain, flooding, and tornados to Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. An intricate system of levees spared New Orleans from flooding, but New York City and parts of New Jersey turned into rivers Wednesday night and early Thursday.
The National Weather Service issued its first-ever flash flood emergency for New York City on Wednesday night, and when the flood came, the governors of New York State and New Jersey and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared states of emergency. Nearly every subway line in the New York City area was shut down, and several people were killed in sinking cars in New Jersey, a partially collapsed building in Queens, and a flooded apartment complex in Rockville, Maryland. New York City banned non-emergency vehicles from flooded roads.
"The sudden inundation from the remnants of Ida transformed familiar scenes of life in New York into otherworldly and waterlogged chaos on Wednesday night," The New York Times reports. "City buses turned into amphibious vehicles, plowing through several feet of water, past orange traffic cones floating like buoys in the muck. Subway stations roared with the sounds of rushing water that cascaded through platforms and down the stairs as if from a churning waterfall, flooding the tracks below."
"If you're thinking of going outside, don't," de Blasio tweeted. "Stay off the subways. Stay off the roads. Don't drive into these heavy waters." He urged New Yorkers to stay home Thursday morning, if possible.
Social media was full of images of people disregarding the stay-at-home advice, from food delivery couriers to a man floating on an air mattress in an alley, smoking a hookah.
Pennsylvania evacuated about 3,000 people below an overwhelmed dam near Johnstown, and tornadoes destroyed buildings in Maryland and New Jersey, The storm is expected to head north to Boston and other parts of New England.