NEW YORK (AP) — Rain walloped the New York metropolitan area with a startling punch Friday, knocking out several subway and commuter rail lines, stranding drivers on highways, flooding basements and shuttering a terminal at LaGuardia Airport for hours in one of the city's wettest days in decades.
More than 7.25 inches of rain had fallen in parts of Brooklyn by nightfall, with at least one spot seeing 2.5 inches in a single hour, according to weather and city officials. The 8.65 inches at John F. Kennedy Airport surpassed its record for any September day, a bar set during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.
And more downpours were expected.
The deluge came two years after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped record-breaking rain on the Northeast and killed at least 13 people in New York City, mostly in flooded basement apartments. Although no deaths or severe injuries have been reported so far from Friday's storm, it stirred frightening memories.
Ida killed three of Joy Wong's neighbors, including a toddler. And on Friday, water began lapping against the front door of her building in Woodside, Queens.
“I was so worried,” she said. It became too dangerous to leave: “Outside was like a lake, like an ocean."
Within minutes, water filled the building's basement nearly to the ceiling. After the family's deaths in 2021, the basement was turned into a recreation room. It is now destroyed.
City officials said they got reports of six flooded basement apartments Friday, but all occupants got out safely.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams declared states of emergency and urged people to stay put if possible. But schools were open, students went to class and many adults went to work, only to wonder how they would get home.
Virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays. Metro-North commuter rail service from Manhattan was suspended for much of the day but began resuming by evening. The Long Island Rail Road was snarled, 44 of the city's 3,500 buses got stranded and bus service was disrupted citywide, transit officials said.
“When it stops the buses, you know it’s bad,” Brooklyn high school student Malachi Clark said after trying to get home by bus, then subway. School buses were running, but they transport only a fraction of public school students, many of them disabled.
On a street in Brooklyn's South Williamsburg neighborhood, workers were up to their knees in water as they tried to unclog a storm drain while cardboard and other debris floated by. Some people arranged milk crates and wooden boards to cross flooded sidewalks.