The slow-moving storm system brought torrential rains across much of New York State late Sunday, flooding streets, prompting dozens of rescues for drivers whose vehicles were stranded on waterlogged roads and causing at least one death, authorities said.
The Hudson Valley was the most affected by the storm system on Sunday, with parts of the area getting between five and eight inches of rain, the National Weather Service said.
The center of the storm hit West Point, US Military Academy in Orange County, which had about eight inches of rain late Sunday.
Constable Steven V. Nevel of the New York State Police described the search and rescue effort late Sunday as an “all hands on deck” effort, saying that several bridges had collapsed and many roads were impassable.
Trooper Nevel added that a section of the Palisades Interstate Parkway, which is normally traveled a lot, was flooded and swept away completely.
Steven M. Neuhaus, Orange County executive, said that there had been one death related to the flooding.
State Senator James Skoufis, who represents Orange County, said the victim was a woman in her 30s, although neither official had details on cause of death or circumstances.
Governor Kathy Hochul said late Sunday that there were additional “missing persons” in Orange County, saying that in one instance a house had been swept into the river. He declared a state of emergency for Orange And ont County on Sunday night.
“The amount of water is incredible,” he said.
Mr Neuhaus said that there had been several calls for water rescue around West Point and Highland Falls, both on the west coast of the Hudson River.
Mr Skoufis, who was in Orange County on Sunday evening, said that in Woodbury the two main arteries in and out of the town were washed out.
“If you're traveling in Orange County, good luck,” said the senator. “Getting around is almost impossible now.”
County officials, police departments and other agencies received dozens of distress calls triggered by flooding that the Weather Service described as “life-threatening”.
Flash flood emergencies — indicating not only that flooding is occurring, but that they pose a severe threat to human life — were issued for most states. Flash flood warning also applies to Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Westchester, Clinton and Franklin County on Sunday night. A keep flood is also in effect in New York City until 6 a.m. Monday.
Michael Strauss, who lives in Rockland County, was driving home from Hunter Mountain when it started to rain heavily, with the rain “running off the cliffs and across the road”.
Mr Strauss and his wife continued to drive through the treacherous conditions, but about a mile north of Bear Mountain Bridge on Route 9W, they got stuck. They tried various avenues but always faced closures and flooding.
“We were kind of stuck in an endless loop for five or six hours with no way out,” said Mr. Strauss. “We've been sitting in the car for two hours not moving.”
Additional rainfall and flooding are expected in the Hudson Valley during the night, prompting several cities to do so declare a state of emergency. Mr. Skoufis said that if the prediction held, “It would probably get worse.”
In Saratoga County, near the city of Waterford, Routes 4 and 32 were flooded with up to two feet of water, said Andrei Evbuoma, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Albany.
Parts of nearby roads in the area were impassable, he added, complicating rescue efforts.
Alan C. Mack, the deputy commissioner of emergency management for Orange County, said late Sunday that officials were still trying to get a full assessment of the possible damage.
“We got to a point where we knew there were people in trouble, and we couldn't reach them because all the roads were closed,” said Mr. Mack, added that he had no idea how many people were trapped.
In Cornwall, a city in Orange County, the local emergency management office advised residents late Sunday to “go to higher ground” if their location was not safe. “Travel impossible,” the office said on Twitter.
Landslides, stranded vehicles and flooded highways were reported in the city, according to the office.
An Amtrak train bound for New York City was stopped on approach to Poughkeepsie late Sunday, with an Amtrak employee announcing that there had been “total collapse of both lines” south of the city, preventing any travel by rail.
The train was backed up so it could travel back to Rhinecliff, NY, where Amtrak officials were determining what to do with the passengers.
Oliver Mackson, who lives in Poughkeepsie, said he was traveling home from Yankee Stadium by train when passengers were alerted that ballast had been washed off the tracks north of Croton-Harmon station, about 35 miles south of Poughkeepsie.
“Everyone is very quiet,” said Mr. Mackson about the passengers on the train. “It's so jarring,” he added.
Floods are a complex phenomenon with many causes, including land development and soil conditions.
While linking climate change to a single flood event requires extensive scientific analysis, climate change — which has already led to higher rainfall in many storms — is an increasingly important part.
Nicholas Naked-Burroughs reporting contribution.