Extreme flooding overwhelms New York roadways

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Heavy rain spawned extreme flooding in New York’s Hudson Valley that killed at least one person, swamped roadways and forced road closures on Sunday night, as much of the rest of the Northeast U.S. began bracing for potentially punishing rains.

As the storm moved east, the National Weather Service extended flash flood warnings into Connecticut, including the cities of Stamford and Greenwich, before creeping into Massachusetts. Forecasters said some areas could get as much as 5 inches (12 centimeters) of rain.

In New York’s Hudson Valley, rescue teams were attempting to retrieve the body of a woman in her 30s who drowned after being swept away while trying to evacuate her home. Two other people escaped.

The force of the flash flooding dislodged boulders, which rammed the woman’s house and damaged part of its wall, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus told The Associated Press.

“Her house was completely surrounded by water,” he said.

“She was trying to get through (the flooding) with her dog,” he added, “and she was overwhelmed by tidal-wave type waves.”

The extent of the destruction from the slow moving storm, which pounded the area with up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain, won’t be known until after sunrise, when residents and officials can begin surveying the damage. But officials said the storm had already wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed to WCBS radio that several people were missing and one home was washed away.

The rains have hit some parts of New York harder than others, but officials said communities to the east of the state should brace for torrential rains and possible flash flooding.

Officials urged residents in the line of the storm to stay off the roads.

“The amount of water is extraordinary and it’s still a very dangerous situation,” Hochul said.

“We’ll get through this,” she said, but added “it’s going to be a rough night.”

The governor declared a state of emergency Sunday for Orange County, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of New York City. She later extended the state of emergency to Ontario County in western New York, southeast of Rochester.

“We are in close communication with local officials and state agencies are participating in search and rescue efforts,” she said.

The state deployed five swift-water rescue teams and a high-axle vehicle to help with rescues in flooded areas.

Some video posted on social media showed the extent of flooding, with streams of brown-colored torrents rushing right next to homes, and roadways washed away by fast-moving cascading flows.

West Point, home to the U.S. Military Academy, was severely flooded. Officials worry some historic buildings might have water damage.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings across parts of southeastern New York, describing it as “life threatening,” as well as warnings in northeastern New Jersey.

By Monday, “a considerable flood threat with a high risk of excessive rainfall is expected across much of New England,” NWS said in a tweet. Intense rain may be especially strong in Vermont and northeastern New York.

Showers and thunderstorms were also expected in New York City Sunday night and may lead to flash flooding, the National Weather Service New York tweeted.

The city’s emergency notification system tweeted that the heavy rain could cause “life-threatening flooding to basements” and instructed residents to “prepare now to move to higher ground if needed.”

State Route 9W was flooded, and the Palisades Interstate Parkway became so drenched that parts of it were closed, the New York State Police said in a statement. The police asked the public to avoid the parkway.

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