A historic rainfall submerged large portions of Brooklyn underwater on Wednesday night — knocking out power for thousands of New Yorkers, halting subway service, and prompting local electeds to plead with residents to stay indoors.
“New York, stay inside and off the roads during this storm and flooding,” Borough President Eric Adams tweeted. “Tonight, we all have to do what this city does best — show up for each other & keep each other safe.”
At around 9:30 pm, the National Weather Service New York issued a Flash Flood Emergency warning for Brooklyn and Queens — the first time they’ve ever had to issue a message of that kind.
Jarringly, the organization reported 3.15 inches of rain in the one-hour stretch between 8:51 pm to 9:51 pm in Central Park, which smashed the previous 60-minute record of 1.94 inches that was set just last week.
At 11:30 pm, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the Five Boroughs, calling the rainfall a “historic weather event.”
“I’m declaring a state of emergency in New York City tonight,” Hizzoner said. “We’re enduring a historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul soon followed suit with her own state-wide state of emergency, and reiterated calls to stay off the roads and remain indoors.
Stunned Brooklynites took to social media to share the views from their homes, including one person who documented submerged cars and pools of water in Park Slope.
Our infrastructure is not ready for climate change, Park Slope edition (also please, please don’t drive into floodwaters edition) pic.twitter.com/xYLyiRSCpq
— Brian Kahn (@blkahn) September 2, 2021
The mayor added that around 5,300 people had already lost power, and officials would be “We’re keeping our eyes on our power grid.”
The massive downpour caused the MTA to halt service of nearly every train line due to flooding on the tracks. The official NYC Subway Twitter account urged stranded straphangers to stay aboard their stalled trains while first responders worked to get them out of the tunnels.
“If you’re on a train that’s stuck, stay on that train,” read the message. “The safest place to be is on the train unless you hear otherwise from the conductor.”
— AI6YR (@ai6yrham) September 2, 2021
Social media users also shared images of delivery cyclists continuing to work during the flooding, and urged anyone ordering food to tip “extremely generously.”
— Unequal Scenes (@UnequalScenes) September 2, 2021
Other commenters were quick to link the extreme flooding with climate change, saying that the city’s aging infrastructure was ill-prepared for increasingly-common extreme weather conditions.
Our infrastructure is not ready for climate change, Elmhurst edition pic.twitter.com/NMc1u0bsiT
— Brian Kahn (@blkahn) September 2, 2021
Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, in an interview with News12, made clear that he too saw a direct link between the storm and an overcapacity of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.
“They call it mother nature for a reason. We’re witnessing what climate change is doing to our country and our globe,” he said. “[This is] part of the new norm for our country and our city.”
Meanwhile, more New Yorkers simply shared extraordinary videos of flooded busses driving through the water while straphangers stood atop seats to avoid getting wet.
Hero bus driver managed to get us safely through the 3-4 feet of rain coursing down the boulevard, but only seemed to be getting worse.
Finally made it through to higher ground and a fellow passenger exclaims ‘oh no I missed my stop..’ pic.twitter.com/ofrVQhGnhK
— Joe English (@JoeEEnglish) September 2, 2021
In Bedford-Stuyvesant, many drivers simply gave up on attempting to navigate through the water, and abandoned their cars all together.
Fulton and Tompkins is a lake with its own waves. Cars stuck and abandoned pic.twitter.com/jOmfv8Thoz
— Scott Heins (@scottheins) September 2, 2021
This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.