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NYC is under a flood watch as heavy rains inundate parts of the state, trapping drivers and damaging roads

<i>Melissa Roberts/TMX</i><br/>Gushing floodwater is seen in Highland Falls
Melissa Roberts/TMX
Gushing floodwater is seen in Highland Falls

By Christina Maxouris and Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) — Flash flood warnings are in effect Sunday night across southeastern New York, including New York City, as powerful thunderstorms make their way into the region, bringing “torrential downpours,” the National Weather Service said.

A flood watch is 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.

The heavy rain could rapidly flood basements and put people’s lives at risk, city officials said, and urged residents to move to higher floors.

The storms have already dumped several inches of water throughout the day across parts of the Lower Hudson Valley, flooding roadways, trapping drivers inside their cars and spilling debris across communities as emergency responders worked to make rescues.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a state of emergency for Orange County Sunday night, saying the community saw “life-threatening flooding” in just a matter of hours and storms knocked out power to 13,000 homes. Emergency responders there were conducting search and rescue efforts there, she added.

Flooding at the United States Military Academy West Point, which is in Orange County, trapped people in their cars and forced them to swim out for safety, a West Point Military Police spokesperson told CNN Sunday. It was unclear if anyone had been injured, the spokesperson said.

Sunday afternoon’s rainfall in West Point totaled more than 7.5 inches in six hours, according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A CNN analysis of NOAA’s historical rainfall frequency data indicates that would correspond to a 1-in-1000 year rainfall event at that location – meaning it was an event so intense, the chances of it happening in any given year is just 0.1%.

Also in the 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.”

Hochul on Sunday urged residents to be particularly vigilant of road conditions throughout the storms.

“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.”

In neighboring Rockland County, New York State Police said Sunday “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 later email sent to CNN, state police spokesperson Steven V. Nevel said multiple people were stranded on the road across the county and emergency responders were working to rescue them as quickly as possible.

The county’s government urged residents to stay home Sunday evening, warning there was “tons of flooding” in the Stony Point and Lowland Hill areas and Lowland Park.

Later Sunday evening, Rockland County Executive Ed Day said in a statement the rain was anticipated to stop at nighttime.

“Until then, we urge residents to remain indoors in a safe location,” he said.

Flash flood threats will remain in parts of New England Monday and could become “extremely dangerous” in parts of Vermont, where mudslides are also possible, and the Champlain Valley bordering New York, the Weather Prediction Center said.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Sunday declared a state of emergency ahead of the storms and the potential flooding and said water rescue teams are already in areas where they may be needed.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Michelle Watson and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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