Stranded Drivers Were Among the New Jersey Victims of Hurricane Ida
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September did not arrive peacefully for the East Coast as Hurricane Ida ripped through the region, making landfall in Louisiana before dumping a month’s worth of rain on New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
77 people died in the U.S. as a result of the storm, at least 43 of whom were from the four northeast states. 27 died in New Jersey alone.
At least eight New Jersians drowned after getting stranded in their cars. Many found themselves in similar situations but were saved by the state’s fire departments and courageous neighbors.
The hurricane caused an estimated $95 billion in damage, or one-half of a percent of the national gross domestic product, according to Insider NJ.
Hurricane Ida caused damage all over the country.
Why were so many New Jersians trapped in their cars by the storm?
Before the tropical storm arrived in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy issued warnings for drivers to stay off the roads unless there was an emergency. Not everyone heard or listened to his pleas.
“There were too many cars on the road,” the New York Times reported Murphy saying. “Thank God most of them were abandoned and people got out safely, but that was not the case for everyone.”
The amount of rain that fell on New Jersey broke records across the state. In the north Jersey township of Cranford, the _Times _says 10 inches of rain fell in just 24 hours.
But water wasn’t the only hazard citizens had to worry about. Seven tornadoes touched down in the Garden State and neighboring Pennsylvania, destroying homes and buildings but only killing one Pennsylvanian woman.
How did Hurricane Ida affect other states?
Hurricane Ida first struck U.S. soil on Sunday, August 29 in Louisiana. A Category 4 hurricane, it was second only to Katrina in intensity and damage caused in the state’s history.
In the South, CNN says 24 people died as a result of the storm: 20 in Louisiana, two in Mississippi, and two in Alabama.
New York State saw 18 deaths from the storm, many of whom were trapped in their basement apartments. The flooding triggered NYC to issue its first-ever flash flood emergency.
Four other people from Pennsylvania died because of the storm besides the one tornado victim. Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia all suffered one casualty as well.
How to survive a flash flood when trapped in your car
As temperatures rise due to climate change, extreme weather will become more common. Hurricane Ida is only the latest example of what to expect. While you want to be aware of falling debris and strong winds during a storm, your primary concern as a driver is the rising water.
The best thing to do is avoid driving during a storm in the first place, but if you do get stuck in your vehicle during extreme weather, the American Safety Council has a few tips that could keep you alive.
First off, keep your radio on and listen for warnings. If you hear one, park your vehicle immediately and move to higher ground on foot. Try to get out of sitting water to avoid being swept away or electrocuted.
If the flood takes you by surprise and you can’t leave your car for some reason, avoid large puddles to keep the vehicle from stalling as you drive toward higher ground. If your car begins to fill with water, lowering your window and swimming to safety is the safest thing to do.