On July 10, a total of 25 million people were in flood alert zones in the northeastern United States. In New York State, after a storm system moved northward through Orange county to Rockland county, hundreds of thousands of residents were impacted by torrential rains that brought a deluge of flash flooding that claimed the life of at least one person in southeastern New York.
New York State’s governor, Kathy Hochul, declared both Orange and Ontario counties to be in a state of emergency due to “life-threatening conditions due to flash flooding.”
“We are approaching a critical point in this weather event, and New Yorkers must remain vigilant. Remember: avoid flooded roads, monitor your local forecasts and have an evacuation plan ready if you’re in a danger zone,” she said.
Besieged with a once-in-a-millennium level of rainfall, both Rockland and Orange counties were hard hit, including the communities of Mahopac, Cold Spring, and Highland Falls.
Earlier in the morning on Monday, a segment of CSX track between Selkirk, New York, and New Jersey was washed out, causing freight delays, but the flooding’s impact on infrastructure became shockingly apparent over the next few hours as evacuations were issued which, in some areas, had volunteers warning residents by going door-to-door.
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According to patch.com, the base of the Popolopen Arch Bridge just south of Fort Montgomery was washed out, resulting in its closure by the fire department.
Due to flooding, the Metro-North Hudson Line service was suspended between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie in both directions and part of U.S. 6 reportedly collapsed near the traffic circle west of the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
At the same time, swift water rescues were ongoing in Highland Falls, where rushing water was as high as the roofs of cars.
In Highland Falls, a young woman perished after she lost her footing in flood waters and was swept away into a ravine while attempting to evacuate her home with her dog. So far, she is the only reported fatality.
Footage from Highland Falls showed rapidly moving water pouring around homes that appeared to emerge from the river itself.
Elsewhere in the area, shortly before 5:00 pm, a vehicle was trapped in flooding at the Long Mountain Parkway Traffic Circle, while the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Stony Point was closed due to flooding in both directions, which included water-borne debris.
Flood damage to tracks resulted in Amtrak suspending passenger train service between Albany and New York City, while over 1,000 flights were canceled in the area due to the storms.
Around 10:30 pm, a line of thunderstorms returned and created additional challenges.
According to Orange County officials, overnight into Tuesday was a challenging time with swift-water rescues happening while parts of roads were swept away.
Congressman Mike Lawler, who represents New York’s 17th district, was on the ground on Monday to survey the damage.
“Unfortunately, the damage was far worse than initially expected. Roads, bridges, and culverts were washed away. Businesses and homes were destroyed. And tragically, at least one Hudson Valley resident lost her life,” Lawler said in an email to Vision Times.
According to Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, the flooding has caused “Easily, tens of millions of dollars in damage.”
Three shelters were opened by the Red Cross to help those displaced by the storm system in Reading, PA, Highland Falls, and Barre, NY.
Despite intense danger in some locations, for most residents, the only challenges posed by the torrential downfall were traffic delays and detours.