'The Amount of Water Is Extraordinary'

Heavy rainfall leads to flash floods across New York state, killing woman and stranding drivers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2023 7:45 AM CDT
Fatal Flooding Sweeps Across New York State
Vehicles come to a standstill near a washed-out, flooded portion of the Palisades Parkway on Sunday in Orange County, New York.   (AP Photo/David Bauder)

Bridges collapsed, streets filled with water, and dozens of drivers were stranded Sunday evening due to flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall across a portion of New York state. The New York Times reports that the Hudson Valley, which includes the West Point Military Academy in Orange County, was hardest hit by what one meteorologist is calling a "once-in-1,000 year rainfall event," with National Weather Service estimates coming in at up to 8 inches of rainfall in that area. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus says one death has so far been attributed to the flooding, after a woman in her 30s tried to flee her home.

"Her house was completely surrounded by water," Neuhaus tells the AP of the Hudson Valley residence, which he notes was slammed by boulders that became unearthed by the flooding. "She was trying to get through [the water] with her dog and she was overwhelmed by tidal-wave type waves." Two others escaped from the house. On Sunday night, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who declared a state of emergency for both Orange and Ontario counties, said multiple people were missing after the floods, and that one home had been swept into a stream. "The amount of water is extraordinary and it's still a very dangerous situation," she noted.

Hochul added that about 13,000 Orange County residents were left without power due to the severe weather, per the Washington Post. New York State Police Trooper Steven Nevel tells the Times that several bridges had experienced collapses and many roads weren't drivable, including parts of the heavily trafficked Palisades Parkway that washed out. "TRAVEL IS IMPOSSIBLE," officials in Cornwall, located in Orange County, posted around 4pm Sunday, citing "numerous flooded roadways ... stranded vehicles, water rescues ... mudslides, trees, and debris."

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The flash flood warnings, described by the NWS as "life threatening," reached as far south as New York City, where a flood watch was issued through Monday morning, and residents of basement apartments were urged to get to higher ground. "Consider moving belongings to a higher floor," the alert notes. And for those who do choose to stay, "be ready to move to a higher floor within minutes. Flash flooding doesn't wait." Warnings were also issued in other parts of the Northeast, including northeastern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. CBS News notes that "for some locations in northern and western New England, this could be the most severe flooding event" since 2011's Tropical Storm Irene. (More flash floods stories.)

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