New York: The death toll from flooding after the remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled cities in the East rose sharply to 46 on Thursday after New Jersey announced at least 23 people had died there.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the flooding and weather on Wednesday night as a "historic weather event," and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time.
Record rainfall, which prompted an unprecedented flash flood emergency warning for New York City, turned streets into rivers and shut down subway services as water cascaded down platforms onto tracks.
"I'm 50 years old and I've never seen that much rain ever," said Metodija Mihajlov whose basement of his Manhattan restaurant was flooded with three inches of water.
"It was like living in the jungle, like tropical rain. Unbelievable. Everything is so strange this year," he told AFP.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled at LaGuardia and JFK airports, as well as at Newark, where the video showed a terminal inundated by rainwater.
"We're all in this together. The nation is ready to help," President Joe Biden said ahead of a trip Friday to the southern state of Louisiana, where Ida earlier destroyed buildings and left more than a million homes without power.
Flooding closed major roads across New Jersey and New York boroughs including Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens, submerging cars and forcing the fire department to rescue hundreds of people.
At least 23 people died in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy told reporters.
"The majority of these deaths were individuals who got caught in their vehicles," he said.
The National Hurricane Center had warned since Tuesday of the potential for "significant and life-threatening flash flooding" and major river flooding in the mid-Atlantic region and New England.