1 dead, thousands impacted by flooding in Orange, Rockland counties

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
Uprooted trees, mounds of mud and debris remain in Rockland after flooding
Janice Yu reports on the damage from the flash flooding in Rockland County.

HIGHLAND FALLS, New York (WABC) -- Governor Kathy Hochul has requested federal aid in the cleanup of the Hudson Valley after Sunday's storm.

Many main roads are still closed as debris and destruction scatter the area.

All travelers heading northbound on the Palisades Parkway will have to get off at exit 14. The violent, fast moving rain water caused cars to get stuck and forced state police to use a boat to get around on the Palisades Parkway.

Marcus Solis has the latest on storm cleanup and aftermath in the Hudson Valley.

The extreme rain washed away roads and even homes in Orange County. The rugby fields at West Point were flooded and damaged.

Now Hochul is turning to the federal government for a helping hand in aiding the residents affected by the major flooding.

"Nine inches of rain in this community," Hochul said during a briefing on a muddy street in Highland Falls. "They're calling this a '1,000 year event.'"

Victim killed while trying to escape with dog

In Fort Montgomery, a 43-year-old woman, identified as Pamela Nugent, was killed in rushing floodwaters in Orange County. She was trying to escape her flooded house with her dog, but she was swept away.

For Jessica Eshleman, she isn't just shocked about her mud-choked home, she also lost her friend who was killed in rushing floodwaters in Orange County. Josh Einiger has more.

"We discovered her remains, she was in the bottom of a ravine," Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said. "It was very dangerous for the first responders that had to get her out of there. We saw the debris falling on them as they tried to get her onto high land where we could get her back to the Medical Examiner's Office."

Shelters set up for victims

Emergency shelters are now in place to help those who were suddenly flooded out of their homes.

Governor Hochul says she is looking to expedite federal funding for flood-damaged homes.

In Highland Falls, where residents had story after story of rescues, rushing water, homes being washed away and more.

The Holiday Inn Express in town is now filled with people who needed a place to stay overnight and those passing through the area who were stranded in town due to road closures.

The hotel does not have running water but it does have power. They have brought in bottled water to hand out.

Charlene Yehl was staying at the shelter after the 38-year-old mother of two, who is 9-months-pregnant, was saved by rescuers.

She praised the heroes who pulled her to safety.

"I am so grateful, I really am," she said. "We have some really great people around us. It wouldn't have happened without any of them."

The Red Cross has also set up a shelter at Sacred Heart Church in the center of town. There were about a dozen people who spend the night in the shelter and others have come and gone throughout the day Monday to get water or grab something to eat.

Munger Cottage, located at 40 Munger Drive, in the Town of Cornwall, will be open to serve as a reception center for displaced residents.

Some families and their loved ones spent the night in an emergency shelter following hours of heavy rain and flash flooding across the Hudson Valley.

Roads closed and travel impact

Many roads remain closed due to the flooding:

-Route 218, Route 9, Route 9W, 9A, Route 293, Route 32, Route 6, Palisades in Orange County

-Route 202, Bronx River Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, U.S. Route 6, Taconic State Parkway, Route 100 in Westchester County

-Route 22 in Ulster County

-Taconic State Parkway and Route 9D in Putnam County

-Taconic State Parkway, Route 9D in Dutchess County

-Palisades Parkway and 9W in Rockland County

-Long Mountain Circle

-Seven Lakes Drive

-Fair Mountain Bridge closed in both directions

The storm also interrupted air and rail travel. As of early Monday, there were hundreds of flight cancellations at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports.

Amtrak suspended service between Albany and New York City, and approximately 90 Amtrak passengers were provided lodging at the Albany Rensselaer Train Station overnight. The Metro-North Hudson line service was suspended Monday to allow for inspection and repairs to track and infrastructure.

A section of Metro-North's railroad tracks were impacted by the storm. Hudson Line service was suspended between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie due fallen trees and flood water.

However, Metro-North announced a partial restoration of train service on the Hudson Line beginning Tuesday morning, following a clean-up. Hudson Line trains will operate between Grand Central Terminal and Peekskill at least once per hour.

Metro-North will continue to provide limited bus service for essential travelers between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie, with buses departing Croton-Harmon on a load-and-go basis. Buses will make stops at Croton-Harmon, Beacon and Poughkeepsie. There will be no substitute service provided at Manitou, Garrison, Cold Spring and New Hamburg.

Bus service on the Upper Harlem Line between Southeast and Wassaic will continue on Tuesday at least through mid-day, making all station stops

Reports of damage

The extent of the destruction from the slow moving storm, which pounded the area with up to 8 inches of rain, won't be known until residents and officials can begin surveying the damage. But officials said the storm had already wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage.

The century-old Popolopen Bridge on US Route 9W in highland falls sustained major damage. The bridge, which has "withstood many an extreme weather event," is "going to take a significant amount of time and reconstruction effort to get it back in operation."

CSX freight tracks were compromised in about 10 places, with tracks washed out between Selkirk, NY and New Jersey. The freight line reported delays and reroutes are anticipated for at least 24 hours.

Videos posted on social media showed parked vehicles in Stony Point surrounded by water.

The National Weather Service reported a portion of US 6 near Fort Montgomery, in Orange County, New York, collapsed west of the Palisades Interstate Parkway on Sunday evening.

"Downed wires, major flooding, it looks like the Colorado river running through here," Neuhaus said.

Neuhaus says first responders have managed to successfully rescue dozens more people from life threatening situations.

In Putnam County, Carmel police posted video of washed out roads and warned of flooded roads throughout the community.

State of Emergency issued after Sunday damage

Hochul issued a State of Emergency in response to the conditions throughout Orange County. On Monday, she expanded the State of Emergency to include Rockland County, as well as Clinton, Essex and Oswego counties upstate.

The state deployed six swift-water rescue teams and a high-axle vehicle to help with rescues in flooded areas.

West Point, home to the U.S. Military Academy, was severely flooded. Officials worry some historic buildings might have water damage.

While cadet training continued unaffected, roads were washed out and garrison headquarters was inundated, as were some of the homes for enlisted personnel and civilian employees.

Some New York residents are now left without their homes after the recent severe weather and flooding.

In New Rochelle, Westchester County, police reported two people were electrocuted on a railing and fell into the water. A Good Samaritan came to their rescue. Both taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The damage is expected to cost millions in repairs and take weeks, not days, in some parts.

Meanwhile in Rockland County, roads were passable again on Monday evening. Cars were not swallowed up in floodwaters, and Stony Point residents could focus on cleaning up.

Lucy Yang has more on the clean up efforts underway in Rockland County after an epic storm that brought dangerous flooding.

Check the AccuWeather forecast for the very latest information.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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