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Heavy Rain Soaks Tri-State Area, Leaves Drivers Stranded In Floodwaters

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Torrential rain left roads flooded and impassable, caused major traffic and transit delays, and even caused a mudslide Wednesday – and the rain was expected to persist to affect the Thursday morning commute.

A flood warning was in effect for the five boroughs of New York City until 1:15 a.m. Thursday. A coastal flood advisory was also in effect for the area until 2 a.m., and a flood warning was in effect in Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Middlesex counties in New Jersey until 4 a.m.

An urban and small stream flood warning was also in effect for northeastern New Jersey and the Lower Hudson Valley until 4 a.m.

A flood watch was also in effect for the entire Tri-State Area until noon on Thursday.

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, the storm system moving through Wednesday and overnight into Thursday has already topped rainfall totals for the month of April and the year to date.

Check The Forecast

As of 11 p.m., some of the record highs in the Tri-State area included Mountainside, N.J. with 5.44 inches of rainfall; Mineola, Long Island with 4.74 inches; Pottersville, N.J. with 4.47 inches; Middle Village, Queens with 4.24 inches; and Central Park, N.Y. with 2.91 inches — a record for this date

CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn said the area could see as much as an additional 2 to 5 inches of rain overnight. The totals could amount to 3 to 6 inches of rain, if not more, CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported.

Rain Impacting Traffic, Transit, Flights, & More

From Long Island to New Jersey, fast-falling rain made a mess on the roads from the beginning of the day to the end. Trouble from the rain was also expected to impact the Thursday morning commute.

The rain and wind also impacted transit in and around New York City.

Bus service to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal was subject to delays of up to 30 minutes due to weather conditions and subsequent congestion.

The Hudson and New Haven lines were experiencing delays of up to 25 minutes in and out of Grand Central Station due to a third rail power problem in the Park Avenue Tunnel.

NJ TRANSIT said it will offer systemwide cross-honoring on Thursday due to severe weather conditions.

The torrential rain also affected the New York City subway system. An Instagram video taken at the Elmhurst Avenue E, M and R train station in Queens showed water cascading from the ceiling onto the stairs and floor.

The B, D, F, M, J, Z, N, Q, and R subway lines were delayed late Wednesday due to signal problems. The MTA did not specify whether the signal problems were weather-related.

Tri-State area airports were also seeing delays Wednesday evening.

As of the 11 p.m. hour, delays of an average of four hours and 34 minutes were reported for arriving flights, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Delays were reported earlier at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports, but travel times were reported as normal as of the 11 p.m. hour.

Nationwide, a total of 6,162 flight delays and 912 cancellations were seen on Wednesday.

Several roadways were also closed because of the rain.

In Westchester County, the Bronx River Parkway was shut down at Main Street in White Plains in both directions, while the Hutchinson River Parkway was closed north of East Lincoln in Mount Vernon.

In Lodi, N.J., Main Street was shut in both directions at Route 46.

Professional sports were not immune to the weather either Wednesday. Both the Mets’ and the Yankees’ games were postponed.

The Yankees were set to play the Mariners in the Bronx, while the Mets were in Philadelphia for a game against the Phillies.

And in Cranford, N.J., a voluntary evacuation order was issued in a flood zone effective at 10 p.m. The river was expected to crest in Cranford between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

For those with no alternative such as a friend or family member’s home, shelter was available at the Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Ave.

Rain Leads To Mudslide, Metro-North Delays In Yonkers

In Yonkers, the rain triggered a mudslide, causing even more delays on the Metro-North Hudson Line.

As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, during the nonstop rain Wednesday, the ground became so saturated that a retaining wall behind an apartment building on Walburton Avenue collapsed and slid down a hill onto the Metro-North tracks below.

Late Wednesday night, two eastbound Hudson Line tracks were closed while one remained open, and delays were estimated at about 25 minutes.

No one was injured in the mudslide, but the Yonkers Fire Department responded to the scene and kept CBS 2’s crew away for safety reasons.

Residents of the apartment building said the retaining wall that gave way in the mudslide runs along the in-ground swimming pool for the building – which has been closed for four years because, neighbors said, the retaining wall had huge cracks in it.

“Over years of time, especially with the winter storms that we had, there was a small crack, and over the years – I guess between the freezing, thawing, freezing, thawing, so on and so forth – it just allowed it to get wider,” resident Orlando Brewster said.

“We had about a 50-foot-long section of retaining wall that came down due to the weather. It’s about 30 feet high. It slid down the embankment, taking a couple of trees, and partially onto the railroad tracks,” a said David Dronzek of the Yonkers Fire Department.

Residents had to move their cars out of the garage under the building as a precaution, but the building itself was not in any danger, CBS 2 was told. Crews as of the 11 p.m. hour were still cleaning debris from the tracks, and delays were expected to persist during the morning commute on the Metro-North Hudson Line.

Flooding In Newark, Hoboken

Heavy rain all day turned several roads into rivers in New Jersey, and left motorists in dangerous situations, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.

In parts of Newark — particularly along South Street — vehicles were stuck in the middle of the road, sitting in more than 2 feet of water.

After dark, motorists were not able to recognize the death of the water and ended up trapped.

The flood waters acted like a tidal wave on the backstreets of Newark.

CBS 2 cameras captured a woman escaping her car after being trapped inside – finding herself surrounded by deep floodwater for 30 minutes.

Emergency medical technicians who just happened to be in the area made sure the woman was safe as they ushered her into an emergency vehicle.

Her car was one of many that tried to make it down South Street and ended up getting stuck.

“They’re all doing fine. A lot of them want to get home to their families,” said EMT Eric Santiago, adding that the trapped drivers were “shaken up; cold.”

Meanwhile, tractor trailer trucks caused waves and left a wake as they plowed down area streets, Schneider reported.

Cars could be seen bobbing up and down in the water as larger trucks drove by, creating serious waves, Schneider reported.

The rapidly rising waters even picked up a newspaper dispenser and carried it down the street.

Alex Godoy spent hours waiting in his car on higher ground.

“I’m seeing all of this. I don’t know what to do, because my house is all down up that way on South (Street),” he said. “I see some cars make it. Some cars just don’t make it. They just die out. Water just floods their engines and it turns off.”

Queenie Cooley stopped her car as soon as she realized just how high this water was, opting to turn around and find another way home.

“I had to go back out of here before I got stuck because I’ve been doing 77 and just left work and I’m not getting stuck,” she said.

People in Newark were not pleased in the slightest with how April was ending.

“For April, it’s not what it’s supposed to be,” said Nino Pirro of Newark.

Major flooding was also seen in Hoboken. Across from a Shop-Rite supermarket at 10th and Madison streets, the water rose past the bumpers on three parked cars.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported two teenage boys became stranded on a property at the same intersection with water on all four sides. In an effort to keep their feet dry, they hopped into a shopping cart to convey them across the floodwaters, and then climbed a fence and worked their way along the top rail with their feet and hands.

The pair succeeded in avoiding the worst of the water.

Beach Erosion Concerns Along Jersey Shore

The wind and rain also caused concerns about beach erosion along the Jersey Shore.

In Sea Bright, the cold wind off the Atlantic was bringing sand off the beach and threatening newly planted dune grass, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported.

“I’m more concerned about the beach erosion coming up on the dune grass that was just planted by all the volunteers in the town versus the flooding,” said Sea Bright Public Works Superintendent Mark Philpot.

After Superstorm Sandy and this past winter, protective dunes were strengthened and beach grass was planted at the base to hold the dunes.

But with this system rolling through, “the tide will come up past and start taking some of the grass and everything that we just planted out and suck it back into the water,” Philpot said.

A Strong storm system sparked concerns over beach erosion along the Jersey Shore on April 30, 2014 (Credit: Levon Putney/WCBS 880)

A Strong storm system sparked concerns over beach erosion along the Jersey Shore on April 30, 2014 (Credit: Levon Putney/WCBS 880)

Philpot said some side streets closer to the Shrewsbury River tend to flood more with heavy rain.

Sea Bright was slammed during Sandy because it sits between the Shrewsbury River and the ocean, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.

Many homes are still damaged and empty.

“It’s pretty bad. It floods pretty much any time a storm like this hits,” said Sea Bright resident Ryan Bennett.

Water from the river was creeping onto the streets, forcing residents to move their cars to higher ground.

“You have to keep it away from the river. It pretty much floods all the time. And then just keep it up here as high ground as we can get to,” Bennett said.

In Monmouth Beach, the waves pounded the coast all day.

Strong easterly winds gusting at 25 mph whipped sand up onto Ocean Avenue, which crews cleaned with a backhoe, Sloan reported.

“I just don’t understand the sand. There seems to be so much more sand since Sandy coming over. So that makes me a little nervous,” said Monmouth Beach resident Mary Horoski.

Back in Sea Bright, Wednesday night’s high tide is expected to bring even more flooding to low-lying areas, Sloan reported.

Before the rain started the earth was so parched that hundreds of acres burned across New Jersey just last week, but after this soaking we’ll likely be running a surplus and flooding could be an issue for some as we head into the weekend.

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