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New York City Declares State of Emergency as Severe Storm Causes Flooding and Travel Disruptions

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On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency across New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley due to a severe storm.[0] The region was experiencing torrential rain and flash flood warnings, prompting Hochul to describe the rain as “dangerous and life-threatening.” She advised residents in these areas to avoid flooded roads.[1]

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood warning for neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, predicting heavy rainfall of 2 to 3 inches per hour. The warning was expected to remain in effect until 2:45 p.m.[2] Flash flood warnings were also issued for the Bronx, Staten Island, and Long Island.

The heavy rainfall resulted in significant flooding throughout New York City.[3] Subways and roads were inundated with water, making travel extremely difficult. The MTA suspended subway services at numerous stations, and the NYC Ferry and Amtrak services were also temporarily suspended. Governor Hochul urged New Yorkers to stay home if possible and shelter in place to ensure their safety.

The impact of the storm was felt at the city's airports as well.[4] Flights at LaGuardia Airport were heavily delayed and canceled, with over 315 flights delayed and 280 canceled by mid-afternoon. John F. Kennedy International Airport also experienced delays and cancellations, with 155 flights departing from the airport canceled and 1709 flights delayed.[5] An additional 371 flights heading to LaGuardia were also delayed or canceled.

The heavy rainfall broke records in the city. By Friday evening, nearly eight inches of rain had fallen at John F. Kennedy International Airport, making it the wettest day at the airport since precipitation records began in 1948.[6] Parts of Queens received over eight inches of rainfall, and Brooklyn experienced over four inches in just three hours.[7]

The severe weather highlighted the vulnerability of cities like New York to flooding.[8] The built environment and lack of green spaces exacerbate flood risks, and climate change is further increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.[9] The city's Chief Climate Officer, Rohit Aggarwala, emphasized the need for improved infrastructure to keep pace with the changing climate.

Governor Hochul acknowledged the need for improved communication with New Yorkers about sudden and extreme weather events.[10] She directed state agencies to provide resources and emergency assistance to address the current weather event and partner with local agencies. She also suspended alternate-side parking regulations due to the heavy rainfall.[11]

As the rain continued through Friday evening, New Yorkers were urged to remain cautious and check on vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with health conditions. The storm served as a reminder of the importance of preparedness and resilience in the face of increasingly severe weather events.

0. “Hundreds of flights canceled and delayed after storm slams New York City” CBS News, 30 Sep. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/flights-out-of-new-york-airports-delayed-over-flooding/

1. “These subway lines are currently suspended given major flooding in NYC” Time Out, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/these-subway-lines-are-currently-suspended-given-major-floods-092923

2. “Rain wallops NYC, and the response draws deluge of critiques” POLITICO, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/09/29/new-york-city-rain-flooding-00119136

3. “New York City Flooding Forces Cinema Closures Including AMC – Update” Deadline, 29 Sep. 2023, https://deadline.com/2023/09/new-york-city-flooding-alamo-movie-theaters-close-1235560042/

4. “State Of Emergency: ‘Extreme Weather Event' Threatening Long Island, Hochul Says” Daily Voice, 29 Sep. 2023, https://dailyvoice.com/new-york/nassau/state-of-emergency-extreme-weather-event-threatening-long-island-hochul-says/

5. “LGA's Terminal A closes due to floods, FAA issues ground delay for NYC airports” The Points Guy, 29 Sep. 2023, https://thepointsguy.com/news/nyc-flash-floods-lga/

6. “Record rain in New York City generates ‘life-threatening' flooding, overwhelming streets and subways” CNN, 30 Sep. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/29/weather/new-york-city-northeast-rain-flood-forecast-climate-friday/index.html

7. “NYC State of Emergency Declared: Train Service ‘Extremely Limited,' Parking Regulations Suspended, Central Park …” westsiderag.com, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.westsiderag.com/2023/09/29/nyc-state-of-emergency-declared-train-service-extremely-limited-alternate-side-park-regulations-suspended

8. “Why New York and other cities still aren't prepared for floods” The Verge, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.theverge.com/2023/9/29/23896228/new-york-city-flooding-brooklyn-urban-climate

9. “NYC flooding: Climate change tests the city’s infrastructural limits” NBC News, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/nyc-flooding-climate-change-infrastructure-limitations-rcna118170

10. “‘Living under a rock' — Mayor Adams again draws criticism for response to severe weather” Gothamist, 29 Sep. 2023, https://gothamist.com/news/living-under-a-rock-mayor-adams-again-draws-criticism-for-response-to-severe-weather

11. “Heavy rain drenches Queens neighborhoods, causing extreme flash flooding throughout the borough – QNS.com” QNS, 29 Sep. 2023, https://qns.com/2023/09/queens-heavy-rain-flash-flooding/

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