Clean-up begins after record-breaking rainfall, flooding across New York City and the Tri-State area

Nearly 8 inches of rain at John F. Kennedy Airport surpassed its record for any September day

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, October 1, 2023
Clean-up begins after record-breaking rainfall, flooding across New York City and the Tri-State area
Parts of New York City and the Tri-State are drying out and cleaning up from one of the areas wettest days in decades. Tom Negovan has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Parts of New York City and the Tri-State are drying out and cleaning up from one of the areas wettest days in decades.

Some 8.65 inches (21.97 centimeters) of rain fell at John F. Kennedy Airport, surpassing the record for any September day set during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

Central Park, which is the New York City official record, had 5.86" inches.

Parts of Brooklyn saw more than 7.25 inches (18.41 centimeters), with at least one spot recording 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) in a single hour, according to weather and city officials.

More rain was expected Saturday but the worst was over, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday morning during a briefing at a transportation control center in Manhattan.

What could have been a life-threatening event was averted, she said, because many people heeded early calls to stay put or head for higher ground before it was too late.

As a result, Hochul said, "No lives were lost."

But the governor said 28 people had to be rescued from the "raging water" by first responders in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island.

"We've seen a whole lot of rainfall in a very short period of time," Hochul said. "But the good news is that the storm will pass, and we should see some clearing of waterways today and tonight."

So much rain fell in a short amount of time that traffic was at a standstill, with water above cars' tires, on a stretch of the FDR Drive - a major artery along the east side of Manhattan. Some drivers abandoned their vehicles.

Priscilla Fontallio said she had been stranded in her car, which was on a piece of the highway that wasn't flooded but wasn't moving, for three hours.

"Never seen anything like this in my life," she said.

Photos and video posted on social media showed water pouring into streets, subway stations, and basements.

Gov. 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.

"Flash flooding is unpredictable and individuals who think they can go about their normal lives and drive vehicles or even take the subway, need to be aware that there are major disruptions," Governor Hochul told Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10. "Best to stay home if at all possible, but if you go into a vehicle you have a chance of being swept away and we lose more lives due to flooding events and people getting trapped in their vehicles."

New York Governor Kathy Hochul calls into Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10 to provide an update on the State of Emergency declared for NYC and parts of the state.

Mass Transit Disruptions

During a Saturday morning news conference, Governor Hochul announced that the MTA was running full weekend service.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and MTA CEO Janno Lieber provide an update on the aftermath of Friday's historic rainfall.

Some service interruptions continued Saturday throughout the city's subway system, which had been in complete chaos the day before because of flooded tracks.

Virtually every subway line on Friday was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays. By evening, the MTA said service had been restored with residual delays.

Metro-North service was also restored with express train service once an hour and local train service once an hour. Heavy rain in the South Bronx caused severe disruptions as rain fell earlier in the day.

A long line of people snaked from the ticket counter in the afternoon at Grand Central Terminal, where Mike Tags was among those whose trains had been canceled. Railroad employees had suggested possible workarounds, but he wondered whether they would work out.

"So I'm going to sit here, ride it out, until they open up," he said

After hours of waiting, all Metro-North lines resumed with limited service by Friday evening.

The Long Island Rail Road was snarled much of the day, and 44 of the city's 3,500 buses became stranded and bus service was disrupted citywide, transit officials said.

Visit the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) website for continuing updates.

Brooklyn swamped by heavy rain

Brooklyn seemed to take the hardest hit in the morning.

On a street in the 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 the flooded sidewalks.

Brooklyn became an epicenter of Friday's rainstorm as streets and subways flooded under more than a half-foot of rain. CeFaan Kim has the latest on the impact in Brooklyn.

More than 6 inches of rain had fallen in Brooklyn before noon, knocking out subway service and flooding streets.

A Brooklyn school was evacuated because its boiler was smoking, possibly because water had gotten into it, Schools Chancellor David Banks said at a news briefing.

In Brooklyn's Crown Heights section, Jessie Lawrence said she awoke to the sound of rain dripping from the ceiling of her fourth-floor apartment. She set out a bowl to catch the drips but heard strange sounds outside her door.

"I opened my front door, and the water was coming in thicker and louder," pouring into the hallway and flowing down the stairs, she said. Rain had pooled on the roof and was leaking through a skylight.

Johny Fernandez has the latest from Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Flash flood warnings were issued for New York City and other parts of the city. Click here for the latest advisories, watches, and warnings from the National Weather Service

LaGuardia's Terminal A flooded

The flooding also impacted air travel. LaGuardia Airport temporarily closed Terminal A due to flooding. It reopened Friday night. Passengers arriving there were bused to Terminal C while it was closed.

Terminal A of Laguardia Airport will reopen Saturday at 4:30 a.m., according to Port Authority. Darla Miles is live with the latest details.

Flights were still arriving and departing at area airports, although intermittent ground stops were expected, officials said.

The FAA makes the decision to implement temporary ground stops as needed.

Departures from John F Kennedy International were delayed an average of 15 minutes. Minimal flight cancellations and delays were reported at Newark.

Air travelers should check the status of their flight prior to arriving at the airport. Check the airport websites below for up-to-the-minute updates as conditions are consistently changing.

Newark Liberty International Airport

JFK Airport

LaGuardia Airport

New Jersey

In New Jersey, multiple communities reported flooded streets and water rescues. Videos posted on social media showed parts of Hoboken, a notorious trouble spot, under water. Public Safety Director Ken Ferrante urged residents to stay home.

Hoboken Public Safety Director Ken Ferrante calls into Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10 to provide an update as the city endures stormy conditions.

Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency effective at 3:00 p.m. due to hazardous weather conditions in parts of the state. The declaration allows extra resources to be deployed throughout the state during the duration of the storm.

The governor also closed state offices beginning at 3:00 p.m. The early dismissal did not include essential employees or emergency personnel.

Westchester County

North of New York City, a state of emergency was declared in Yonkers and Westchester County as the Bronx River Parkway flooded Friday.

Yonkers city officials are working to pump out large amounts of water from flooded roads due to Friday's historic storm. Sonia Rincon has the latest details.

ESU and patrol officers rescued multiple people from vehicles that became partially submerged by flood waters. They also assisted many others to safety who had to abandon their cars in rising waters.

Patrol officers carried a woman to safety when she became trapped in her car on the Saw Mill River Parkway in Mount Pleasant. In another incident, other officers rescued two adults and a 2-year-old from a car on the Saw Mill near the New York City line. The water had risen halfway up the car's doors and the occupants were unable to get out.

The parkways in the river valleys of Westchester are designed to help funnel the water away but the rivers get overwhelmed when it pours like it did Friday morning.

Long Island

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman held a news conference Saturday to provide an update after the rainfall, which he described as being of "epic proportions."

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman held a news conference Saturday to provide an update after Friday's torrential downpour.

"Parts of Nassau County received an excess of 8 inches of rain, which is record-setting," he said before thanking first responders and emergency personnel. "They tackled the problem in a tremendously professional way."

Long Island escaped some of the worst weather on Friday morning, but during the evening hours Nassau and Suffolk Counties experienced some of the heaviest bands.

Some drivers in Oceanside didn't hesitate to drive right through the flooding waters.

Others had second thoughts.

The rain did not relent the entire day - it just kept coming and coming, snarling traffic all over the place. Businesses tried to keep the water out for as long as possible.

The high water was no match for some cars - other drivers did not fare as well.

Kristin Thorne is live in Oceanside where residents experienced heavy rainfall, thunder and lightning amid Friday's historic storm.

Some information from The Associated Press


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Heavy rain floods streets in South Brooklyn

Heavy rain brought widespread flooding in Brooklyn Friday.

Video shows floodwater up to windows of cars in Park Slope

Video from Park Slope Friday shows floodwaters rising up to the windows of cars.

Cars, pedestrians make their way through knee-high floodwater in Bath Beach

Cars, pedestrians, and MTA buses navigated knee high floodwater in Bath Beach, Brooklyn Friday.

Water floods backyard of home in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Water from heavy rain flooded the backyard of a home in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Friday.


MTA Chairman Janno Leiber provides an update on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10:

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber talks about the impact to mass transit as NYC endures a State of Emergency.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

Long Island Railroad

Metro-North Railroad

NYC Ferry Services

New Jersey Transit

Connecticut Commuter Rail (Shore Line East)

Take the following steps to ensure you and your loved ones are protected:

  • Develop a household disaster plan and know how to always contact family members. Identify an out-of-town friend or family member to be the "emergency family contact" and make certain all family members have the contact info.
  • Designate an emergency meeting spot - a familiar location where family can meet if the residence cannot be accessed.
  • Know hurricane and storm risks in your community.
  • If you live near coastal areas, learn about your area's storm surge history and your community's warning signals and evacuation plans, including safe routes inland and the location of official shelters.
  • Know where to relocate pets during a storm - most shelters will not allow pets.
  • Take the following preventative measures:

  • Obtain and store materials, such as plywood, necessary to properly secure your home.
  • Repair loose and clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Secure or bring inside lawn furniture and other loose, lightweight objects such as garbage cans and garden tools that could become projectiles in high winds. Also keep trees and shrubbery trimmed of dead wood.
  • Review insurance policies to determine extent of coverage before a storm strikes.
  • Determine where to move boats in an emergency.
  • Be aware of local weather conditions by listening to National Weather Service broadcasts on NOAA Weather Radio and reports from local television and radio stations.
  • Know how to turn off the power, heat and water at home.
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