Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021. (Image: Romy Dorotan/Purple Yam)
Record-breaking rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida fell on Brooklyn and the rest of the New York region Wednesday night, turning streets into rivers, flooding subway stations, damaging buildings and causing numerous fatalities.
At least 14 people in the region were killed during the storm, many of whom lived in basement apartments that flooded as the water rose. One of those was a 66-year-old man in East New York, who was found dead in his basement apartment on Ridgewood Avenue near Autumn Avenue at about 11:30pm Wednesday night, according to police.
The investigation in that case is ongoing, police said, and the cause of death was not yet determined. The man’s identity has not been released because his family has not yet been notified.
By then, the National Weather Service in New York had already issued a Flash Flood Emergency warning for Brooklyn and Queens, the first such warning for the area in the Service’s history.
As much as 3.15 inches of rain fell in Central Park a one-hour period between 8:51 pm to 9:51 pm, the Service said, toppling the previous one-hour record of 1.94 inches that was set just last week by the aftermath of Hurricane Henri.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency at 11:26pm. Governor Kathy Hochul issued a state-wide state of emergency shortly after.
All night, Brooklynites shared videos of the storm’s impact on social media, many showing water gushing along neighborhood streets.
Con Edison reported electrical outages to about 20,000 customers on Thursday morning, about 1,227 of which were in Brooklyn. The outages were spread across the northern, central and southern portions of the borough.
“Even the morning after, we’re still uncovering the true depth of the loss,” Governor Kathy Hochul said at a press event Thursday morning.
“There are no more cataclysmic unforeseeable events,” she said. “We need to foresee these in advance and be prepared.”
She said that the region’s coastal areas were better prepared for major weather events because of resiliency investments made after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But, she said, “where we have vulnerability is in our streets.”
The vulnerability was also apparent under the streets. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority shut down service on nearly every line last night because of flooding on the tracks, and urged riders to remain aboard stalled trains while first responders retrieved from tunnels. Service across the system remained limited Thursday morning, and the MTA asked New Yorkers to avoid unnecessary travel.
Alternate-side parking was also been suspended Thursday to allow for storm cleanup.
For many, the flooding came closer to home. Some Twitter users in Brooklyn shared videos of water gushing down stairs, under doorways, and even from bathroom toilets.
Hochul said she directed the state’s Department of Finance to work with insurance providers to “get people on the ground” in neighborhoods to help people file claims for storm-related damages.
New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand released a statement Thursday morning urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to approve any request from New York City and State for a major disaster declaration following the flooding.
Several of Brooklyn’s elected officials linked the flooding to climate change, and called for the city and state to invest more in infrastructure and storm-preparedness in the borough.
“Our actions must be far more urgent attention to NYC’s infrastructure & preparedness,” said Park Slope Council Member Brad Lander, who is also the Democratic nominee in the race for city comptroller.
“Nobody wants to get philosophical when their basement is flooded or the subway is shut down or the deli on the corner is about to float away,” southern Brooklyn Council Member Justin Brannan wrote on Facebook. “But climate change is real and it's here and if we don't invest in our ancient and crumbling infrastructure, this will be the new norm.”
North Brooklyn Council Member Antonio Reynoso announced his office was distributing gloves and bags to volunteers who wanted to assist with cleaning out clogged storm drains.