Meteorologists have issued a flash flood emergency for parts of the Lower Hudson Valley in southeastern New York, warning that powerful thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain and are causing “life threatening” and catastrophic flash flooding.
Flash flood warnings were in effect Sunday evening for several areas in the region, including southeastern and central Orange County, western Putnam County, northern Westchester County and Rockland County, which has seen the heaviest rainfall, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of northeastern New Jersey were also under a flash flood warning, the service said.
“Move to higher ground now! This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order,” the service warned Sunday evening.
A flood watch is also in effect across New York City until 6 a.m. Monday morning, the city said on its website, adding that areas that were low-lying, had poor drainage or are close to creeks, streams or rivers are particularly at risk for flash flooding. An “excessive rainfall event” is expected to begin around 7 p.m. Sunday, the city said.
The heavy rain coming in Sunday night and Monday “may cause rapid, life-threatening flooding to basements,” the city’s emergency notification officials said on Twitter. “Prepare now to move to higher ground if needed. If you must travel, exercise caution and avoid flooded roadways.”
In nearby Rockland County, New York State Police said “numerous roadways consisting of State Route 9W and Palisades Interstate Parkway are experiencing heavy flooding and washouts. The Palisades NB is closed from exit 14 to Long Mountain Traffic circle. Avoid The Area!!!”
In a Sunday update, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul urged residents to be particularly vigilant of road conditions.
“My biggest concern is the fact that most people’s lives that are lost during a flood event occur because they’re in their vehicles – not in their homes, but in their vehicles,” she told a Spectrum News reporter. “And I want people to be very cautious about not going into a road that’s closed or if you see any running water, because it doesn’t take much for a vehicle, just two feet … of water can actually sweep a car away and you lose all control, and you could actually lose your life.”
Flooding at the United States Military Academy West Point, which is in Orange County, has forced people to swim out of their cars, a West Point Military Police spokesperson told CNN Sunday.
People who had been trapped in their cars in one part of the academy’s campus swam out of their cars to get to safety, the spokesperson said, adding it is unclear at this time if anyone had been injured.
Also in Orange County, officials for the town of Cornwall issued a “No travel Advisory,” following multiple roads that had been flooded and people that had to be rescued from their stranded cars. The town’s emergency management office also warned the storms had caused mudslides and debris.
“TRAVEL IS IMPOSSIBLE,” the office said on Twitter. “GET TO HIGHER GROUND. IF SAFE, STAY WHERE YOU ARE.”