A slow-moving storm system brought heavy rain across a wide swath of New York state Sunday night, flooding streets, prompting dozens of rescues for drivers whose vehicles were stranded on flooded roads and causing at least one death, authorities said.
The Hudson Valley was the hardest hit by the storm system Sunday, with parts of the area receiving between five and eight inches of rain, the National Weather Service said.
The epicenter of the storm hit West Point, the US Military Academy in Orange County, which had about eight inches of rain as of Sunday evening.
Trooper Steven V. Nevel of the New York State Police described the search and rescue effort Sunday night as an “all hands on deck” effort, saying several bridges had collapsed and many roads were impassable.
Trooper Nevel added that portions of the Palisades Interstate Parkway, which is typically heavily traveled, were flooded and completely washed out.
Steven M. Neuhaus, the Orange County director, said there had been one death related to the flooding.
State Sen. James Skoufis, who represents Orange County, said the victim was a woman in her 30s, although neither official had details about the cause of death or the circumstances.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday night that there were additional “missing persons” in Orange County, saying in one case a house had been swept away in a creek. She declared a state of emergency for Orange County Sunday night.
“The amount of water is extraordinary,” she said.
Mr. Neuhaus said there had been several calls for water rescues near West Point and Highland Falls, both of which are on the western shore of the Hudson River.
Mr. Skoufis, who was in Orange County Sunday night, said in Woodbury, the two major arteries in and out of town were washed out.
“If you’re traveling within Orange County, good luck,” the senator said. “Getting around is almost impossible right now.”
County officials, police departments and other agencies received dozens of emergency calls as a result of flooding, which the weather service described as “life-threatening.”
Flood emergencies – which indicate not only that flooding is occurring, but that it poses a serious threat to human life – were issued in parts of the state. Flood warnings was also in effect for Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Westchester, Clinton and Franklin counties Sunday evening. ONE flood watch was also in effect throughout New York City until 6 Monday morning.
Michael Strauss, who lives in Rockland County, was driving home from Hunter Mountain when a heavy downpour began, with the rain “pouring off the rocks and across the roads.”
Mr. Strauss and his wife continued to drive through the dangerous conditions, but about a mile north of the Bear Mountain Bridge on Route 9W, they got stuck. They tried different routes but encountered closures and flooding each time.
“We were kind of stuck in an endless loop for five or six hours with no way to go,” said Mr. Strauss. “We’ve been sitting in the car for two hours without moving.”
Additional rainfall and flooding was expected in the Hudson Valley overnight, prompting some towns declare a state of emergency. Sir. Skoufis said that if this prediction holds, “it will probably get worse.”
In Saratoga County, near the city of Waterford, Routes 4 and 32 were flooded with up to two feet of water, said Andrei Evbuoma, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Albany.
Parts of nearby roads in the area were impassable, he added, complicating rescue efforts.
Alan C. Mack, Orange County deputy emergency management commissioner, said Sunday evening that officials were still trying to get a full assessment of the possible damage.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we know there are people in trouble and we can’t get to them because the roads are all blocked,” said Mr. Mack, adding that he did not know how many people were stuck.
In Cornwall, a city in Orange County, the local emergency management office Sunday night urged residents to “get to higher ground” if their location was not safe. “Travel is impossible,” the office said on Twitter.
Mudslides, stranded vehicles and flooded roads were reported in the city, according to the office.
An Amtrak train bound for New York City was halted as it approached Poughkeepsie Sunday evening, with an Amtrak employee announcing that there had been a “complete washout of both tracks” south of the city, preventing any train travel .
The train was put into reverse so it could travel back to Rhinecliff, NY, where Amtrak officials decided what to do with the passengers.
Poughkeepsie resident Oliver Mackson said he was returning home from Yankee Stadium by train when passengers were told the ballast had been washed off the tracks north of the Croton-Harmon station, about 35 miles south of Poughkeepsie .
“Everybody’s pretty subdued,” said Mr. Mackson about the passengers on the train. “It’s very appalling,” he added.
Flooding is a complex phenomenon with many causes, including land development and soil conditions.
Although linking climate change to a single flood requires extensive scientific analysis, climate change — which already causes heavier rainfall in many storms — is an increasingly important part of the mix.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed with reporting.