Heavy rain, flash flooding causes major disruptions to subway service, Metro-North

Josh Einiger Image
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Flooding from storm causes major disruptions to NYC mass transit
A deluge of rain flooded streets, highways and subway stations in and around New York City, leading to a domino effect of limited service and delays for riders and commuters. Josh Einiger has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A deluge of rain flooded streets, highways and subway stations in and around New York City, leading to a domino effect of limited service and delays for riders and commuters relying on any means of transportation to get around Friday.

The monsoon quickly overwhelmed the city's drainage capacity and sent millions of gallons of water cascading into the subway.

Subway service was extremely limited for hours on Friday with many lines being suspended or running with delays.

Commuters were packed like sardines on the few trains that were actually running.

A fully loaded 6 train, with no warning, forced everyone off. Its operator declaring the stop, the end of the line.

"I went to 110th Street for the 2, there's no 2, then I came here, and they said it's going to be a while," straphanger Sharon Green said. "So, I'm exhausted, I need to get home.

Meanwhile, Metro-North commuters spent more than five agonizing hours in a crowded Grand Central Terminal, with all three of its lines, including Hudson, Harlem and New Haven, blocked by flooding. All lines were restored with limited service from Grand Central Terminal by Friday evening.

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

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Mike Tags was among those whose Metro-North 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

The Harlem and New Haven lines share the same section of track in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, which had been completely flooded.

The MTA has spent billions since Superstorm Sandy to make its systems more resilient.

The Mott Haven area is on their list, but they just haven't gotten to it yet.

"We literally have put in a request for a federal grant to do work on this Mott Haven area of the Metro-North system," Lieber said. "So, it's very timely, we are very well aware of this particular area of vulnerability. We've done a ton of work, we have more to go."

Despite the disruptions, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said that the situation could have been much worse.

"We had very low commuter levels this morning," Lieber said. "Of course, it's a post-COVID Friday, which is generally a low commuting day, but the fact that the governor and the MTA were able to alert people was definitely a plus."

Lieber said that preparations for this heavy rain started Thursday when the agency learned of the challenging forecast.

"We staged equipment, we got pump trains ready, we got people in place," Lieber said. "We had pumps on trucks. We checked all of our drains to make sure that that we had appropriate protection in place."

LIRR service

All lines are running on the Long Island Rail Road. There's a partial suspension on the Far Rockaway branch between Valley Stream and Far Rockaway. There's a partial suspension on the Long Beach branch between Lynbrook and Long Beach.

NJ Transit service

North Jersey Coast Line rail service has resumed between Long Branch and Middletown stations following earlier high-water conditions near Little Silver and is subject to up to 60-minute delays in both directions.

Bridges and tunnels

All earlier speed restrictions due to wind have been lifted at the bridges.

Bus terminals

There are no operational impacts at the Midtown Bus Terminal or the GWB Bus Station. Customers should check with their bus carriers about any impact to bus service.


No impact to PATH operations have been reported. Officials are monitoring conditions and will update customers if schedule adjustments are required.

Shipping ports

There are no operational impacts to port operations.


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