At least 27 New Jersey residents killed in Ida flooding, 4 people missing

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Sunday, September 5, 2021
At least 25 NJ residents killed in Ida flooding, 6 people missing
Anthony Johnson has more on the deaths and people missing in New Jersey after Ida battered the Tri-State.

MILLBURN, New Jersey (WABC) -- Ida's flooding claimed the lives of at least 27 people in New Jersey, with four people still missing across the state, and the death toll is likely to rise.

Two of those missing have been identified as Nidhi Rana and Ayush Rana, who were last seen in the Passaic area.

The family members are trying to stay calm as they gathered at the scene of the disappearance. But now, the search is getting more and more desperate.

As the search continues, Governor Phil Murphy toured downtown Millburn Friday morning after the city was flooded by the Passaic River, severely damaging many businesses along Millburn Avenue.

Businesses in Millburn, New Jersey suffered extensive flooding damange.

"Sadly, Millburn is hardly alone," he said. "Millburn was crushed, and the downtown small business community was crushed."

Many were trying to clean up after suffering significant damage and flooding, and about 100 people were rescued from businesses and cars in the downtown area Wednesday night.

They were taken to the Millburn Library, where they stayed the night.

"What I saw and witnessed was actually worse than Irene or Sandy," property owner Robert Chultz said.

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Remnants of Ida walloped the New York City Tri-State area Wednesday, triggering flash flooding and multiple tornado warnings that could continue into Thursday.

Mayor Tayor Prupis sent a voicemail to Millburn residents, urging them to come together and help pick up debris around town, and that's just what people did.

"A choked-up moment, the community reach out yesterday and social media, hundreds and hundreds of people came out yesterday," property owner Cary Heller said. "Children, shovels, brooms, hands, gloves, water, sodas, chocolate chip cookies, and came out to help."

Business owners will be getting more help from the state level.

"I'm announcing $10 million in grants that we're making available to the New Jersey Economic Authority for small business affected by Tropical Storm Ida," Murphy said. "If you've been crushed, and you can prove it you're eligible."

After touring the damage, Murphy talked about how these events are connected to climate change.

"As we continue to contend to deal with the reality of climate change, it is no surprise that these storms are happening with greater frequency and greater intensity," he said. "This conversation is one that we will continue having, probably for the rest of our lives. But the unfortunate reality is that sudden and intense rainfall is exactly one of the circumstances that New Jersey climate scientists have predicted."

Hurricane Floyd in 1999 caused nearly $25 million in damage to about 90 downtown business center near the west branch of the river and 500 homes around town.

Meantime, officials also identified four people killed in an apartment complex in Elizabeth.

Rosa Espinal, 72, her 71-year-old husband Jose Torres, their 38-year-old son Jose Torres, and their 33-year-old neighbor Skakia Garrett, all perished when Oakwood Plaza was inundated with eight feet of water.

In Cranford, more than 200 people had to be rescued.

The water rose quickly as it overflowed from the Rahway River trapping families on the top floors of their homes and in cars.

They were warned not to attempt to swim or wade out of the flooding on their own.

Cranford's swift water rescue team jumped into action using a boat to get people to dry land.

"The water was pouring in from the basement and then it just kept filling up, it was like knee-deep in my living room," a resident said. "The walls are ruined so I'm sure we'll have to go back and assess the damage at some point."

Meanwhile, dramatic new video showed a person walking though ankle-deep floodwater in their family's basement in when the entire wall caved in.

Dramatic video shows a person walking though ankle-deep floodwater in their family's basement in Cranford, when the entire wall caves in with gushing water.


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