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Storm Ida: New York City declares state of emergency amid 'brutal flooding'

A person makes his way in rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 1, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by AFP)

The mayor of  New York City has declared a state of emergency, calling on residents to stay indoors as the remnants of Hurricane Ida barreled into the city with record-breaking rain.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the state of emergency on Wednesday night, over what he described as a "historic weather event" in the region.

“We're enduring an historic weather event tonight with record-breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads," de Blasio said in a tweet on Wednesday.

He urged people to "stay off the roads. Don't drive into these heavy waters. Stay inside."

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time.

The agency defines such emergencies in a tweet as “exceedingly rare situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage,” typically with “life-threatening water rises resulting in water rescues/evacuations.”

At least four deaths have so been reported in the city so far.

The severe weather condition also caused the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue a "ground stop" at all three New York City-area airports.

Newark Liberty International Airport's air traffic control tower was evacuated.

"All flight activity is currently suspended & travelers are strongly advised to contact their airline for the latest flight & service resumption information," the airport tweeted. "Passengers are being diverted from ground-level flooded areas."

Nearly all subway lines were suspended in the city and all non-emergency vehicles were banned from the streets until 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Thursday, city authorities announced on Twitter.

According to de Blasio, approximately 5,300 customers were without power.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also declared the emergency, as remnants of the hurricane raced up the East Coast.

The declarations came as the stormy weather moved northeast on Wednesday, bringing drenching rain that could lead to life-threatening flooding, according to meteorologists.

The storm had caused 57,519 power outages statewide and “these numbers are climbing,” Murphy of New Jersey said on Twitter.

Official ordered the evacuation of residents in downtown Passaic due to concern about the rising level of the Passaic River and a high tide early in the morning.

New Jersey Mayor Hector Lora said a 70-year-old man was swept away by floodwaters in Passaic, and that he had unconfirmed reports of additional deaths.

At least nine homes were destroyed in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, images on social media showed.

The National Weather Service said a “large and extremely dangerous” tornado had been observed south of Philadelphia, near Mullica Hill, N.J.

“You are in a life-threatening situation,” the service said in a statement. “Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter.”

He said the authorities were assessing the damage and added, “We do not have an estimate of when power will be restored.”

Storm Ida slammed into the southern state of Louisiana over the weekend, bringing severe flooding and tornadoes as it blazed a trail of destruction north.

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