Northeast flooding: Trapped drivers swam out of their cars. A woman died after being swept away by floodwaters. What to know about the heavy rainfall hitting the Northeast

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CNN
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Severe storms that left at least one dead in southeastern New York are dumping heavy rainfall at intense rates over parts of the Northeast, prompting road closures, water rescues and urgent warnings about life-threatening flash floods.

Over 9 million people are under flood alerts across the Northeast on Monday, including parts of New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine – as well as across the country in Washington and Alaska. Flash flood emergencies and landslides are expected, with heavy rainfall continuing throughout the day.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency warning for central Vermont on Monday, where flooding is already underway and up to 6 inches of rain has fallen. Ten people were rescued from a campground in Andover amid severe flooding, said Jeannette Haight, the town clerk and treasurer. A bridge at the Horseshoe Acres Campground was washed out and campers were trapped. A call for help came in around 4 a.m. and rescuers were able to get the campers to safety, Haight told CNN.

In Orange County, in southeastern New York, officials declared a state of emergency in the wake of severe flooding that resulted in the death of one woman who was swept away by floodwaters as she was trying to evacuate her home.

“Last night was compete chaos,” county Executive Steve Neuhaus said on “Good Morning America” on Monday.

Neuhaus said officials believe they’ve “got everybody accounted for,” but there is a possibility that people were swept away by flash floods. The area is still experiencing power outages.

In Ontario County, in western New York, nearly 100 homes were impacted by the storm, with many residents displaced. Officials in the area have set up a temporary shelter.

Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed state police and swift water rescue teams as the state braces for more road floods and washouts.

“We are approaching a critical point in this weather event, and New Yorkers must remain vigilant,” Hochul said Sunday night. “Remember: avoid flooded roads, monitor your local forecasts and have an evacuation plan ready if you’re in a danger zone.”

Rainfall in West Point, New York, totaled more than 7.5 inches in six hours Sunday afternoon, according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s a 1-in-1000 year rainfall event for the area, according to a CNN analysis of NOAA’s historical rainfall frequency data.

A once-in-a-millennium rainfall event is one that is so intense, the chances of it happening in any given year is just 0.1%.

Reading, Pennsylvania, received 5.35 inches of rain Sunday, shattering its old daily rainfall record of 3.47 inches, set in 1952.

Areas across New England could see 3 to 5 inches of rain Monday, which could bring rainfall totals for this storm up to 12 inches.

A moderate risk, Level 3 of 4, of excessive rainfall is in place in New England through early Tuesday. Rainfall totals across the area are expected to range from 3 to 5 inches.

Intense rainfall rates are expected to continue in Vermont and northeastern New York on Monday, according to the weather service. New York could see 1 to 2 inches of rain per hour, the NWS warned.

In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency as the weather service warned flash flooding could become “extremely dangerous.”

Vermont faces a rare high risk of excessive rainfall, which could push isolated storm totals towards 12 inches when combined with the rainfall that already fell across the area over the weekend. “Significant to potentially catastrophic flash flooding is likely, especially in areas that have recently received heavy rainfall,” Vermont transportation officials tweeted.

“The threat is exacerbated by the fact that the ground is already saturated from recent rainfall events,” the weather service said.

Several additional inches of rain falling over the area in a short period of time – over mostly saturated ground – could set the stage for significant flash and river flooding, as well as mud slides, the weather service warned.

Emergency personnel tend to a resident of home in Stony Point, New York, after rescuing the man from his flooded home Sunday.

“Flash flood warnings mean travel is extremely dangerous. Please, don’t take any chances,” Hochul said. “Stay home, stay off the roads, and stay safe.”

Millions of New York City residents were under a flood watch Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday.

New York City’s Emergency Management Department cautioned residents living in basement apartments “to be prepared to move to higher ground.” Heavy rains continuing through Monday morning “may cause rapid flooding to basements with little to no notice and can be life threatening,” an alert from the agency sent Sunday afternoon reads.

When torrential rain from Hurricane Ida caused flooding in New York City in 2021, most of the homes where residents were found dead were illegally converted basement or cellar apartments, city officials said.

“Do not underestimate the power of fast-moving water,” Hochul said. “Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car, and water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.”

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson canceled camp on Monday due to the heavy flooding in Rockland and Orange counties on Sunday.

Also in New York’s Orange County, people got trapped by floodwaters at the US Military Academy at West Point and had to swim out of their cars to get to safety, a West Point Military Police spokesperson told CNN Sunday.

In the same county, the town of Cornwall issued a “No travel Advisory” Sunday after storms flooded multiple roads, triggered mudslides and forced rescues from stranded cars.

“TRAVEL IS IMPOSSIBLE,” Cornwall emergency officials said on Twitter. “GET TO HIGHER GROUND. IF SAFE, STAY WHERE YOU ARE.”

In nearby Rockland County, New York State Police reported “numerous motorists stranded” due to flooding in the area.

State Police, local fire departments and EMS were using personnel and equipment to assist motorists and “get them to safety as fast as possible,” spokesman Steven V. Nevel told CNN in an email Sunday.

Firefighters in Canandaigua in Ontario County, New York, received over 150 water related calls and performed dozens of rescues, Canandaigua Fire officials tweeted Sunday, sharing a photo of people kayaking through deluged streets.

Eastern Pennsylvania also saw “significant” flash flooding Sunday afternoon, according to the weather service. The Fleetwood Police Department shared images of deluged roadways in Berks County and urged residents to avoid all travel, adding that crews were out responding to rescues and flooded basements Sunday.



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