Author: Donna Conneely
Records were broken last month as massive amounts of rain swamped parts of Long Island. During the 24-hour period beginning on the morning of Wednesday, August 13, 2014, more rain fell than during any similar period in recorded history. At the weather station on Long Island, more than 13″ of rain was recorded.
Unfortunately, this rainfall occurred before and during morning rush hour traffic, and caused widespread havoc and panic as cars actually floated on the roads. One driver was killed during the chaos, and numerous traffic accidents added to the logjam.
The storm resulted in large-scale damage across a wide swath of the island, affecting homeowners and businesses alike. Streams and rivers flooded universally, and any properties near these waterways were likely to have flooding and damage.
Sinkholes were also a problem, and in one town a car narrowly avoided being swallowed up by a sudden chasm in the road. More than 50 people had to be rescued by emergency personnel when their cars became stranded or stalled by floodwaters. One motorist, whose car was mired in almost six feet of swirling water, had to be saved when his car began to fill with water.
With hundreds of cars abandoned on streets and highways, navigation was extremely difficult and dangerous. At times, the abandoned cars would be picked up and carried by the current, creating a threat to emergency vehicles trying to move through the water on rescue missions. Boats were required to rescue people who were stranded in the middle of “lakes” that had formed where parking lots had stood just hours or even minutes before.
Flash flooding was a problem throughout much of Long Island, and quickly turned highways into rivers. Although the storm largely avoided populous New York City, other parts of New York were affected, as well as parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. Damage to homes and businesses was severe in some areas. A few very unlucky people who had experienced total loss of their homes during Hurricane Sandy suffered major damage to their new homes in this storm.
Many outlying suburbs were very hard-hit by flash flooding, resulting in widespread property damage. Unless flood barriers were in place, any low-lying area became an instant lake, up to several feet deep in some places. Trucks with snowplows attached could be seen pushing water out of apartment parking lots in an effort to minimize flooding at the property.
The storm was so severe that parts of Long Island and surrounding environs were forced to declare a state of emergency, freeing up funds to pay for rescue personnel and equipment. Once again, Long Island and other low-lying communities felt the full fury of nature, as storm-driven flooding swept through these districts. And once again, thoughts now turn to flood barriers and other methods of prevention … for the next storm.