Car Rescues, Lightning Strikes & Downed Trees Mark Dramatic Day In Our Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Severe weather made its way across the Tri-State Area Wednesday afternoon, prompting numerous severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood advisories.

The storms cleared out late Wednesday night, setting the stage for what’s expected to be a beautiful Thursday that will be mostly sunny with lower humidity.

READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In NYC: Pop-Up Vaccination Sites Across City Offer Johnson & Johnson Shot To Tourists

Earlier Wednesday, there was plenty of storm damage in the way of downed trees and power lines in addition to power outages — mostly on Long Island.

But other parts of the area, including Queens and northeastern New Jersey, were also significantly impacted.

Check Forecast | Photos: Storm Damage | Share Your Storm Pictures


A lunch date for Sister Claudia Bradshaw was almost her last date when the car she was in got stuck in the rising waters of a Queens underpass.

“It went dead and it started to float and then the water started to come through,” Bradshaw told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey on Wednesday night.

Sister Claudia Bradshaw and two others had to be rescued from this Queens underpass. (credit: CBS 2)

With the car sinking and no help in sight, Sister Claudia said she did the only thing she could.

“We prayed. We prayed,” she said.

Also in the car was a couple, named Mary and Joseph, who called 911 and then opened the sun roof thinking of escape. They then spotted an EMT crew, which they frantically called over to help.

“And one man actually swam to get to us and he got my door open and pulled me out,” Bradshaw said.

All three were pulled to safety.


In Glendale, Queens, Juanita Rosario and her 9-year-old daughter, Alexandra, were on their way home from Home Depot, entering the Cooper Avenue underpass, when they suddenly found themselves under water.

“There was a big truck in front of us. I didn’t see that the water was very deep and my car…the truck went through, so I thought I was going to make it through also. I didn’t think it was that deep,” Rosario told 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten.

Her daughter had already had a near drowning in a pool and feared the worst.

“That I’m going to die at a young age and I’m not going to experience the…world with my family,” Alexandra said.

1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten With More On The Rescue

The car quickly filled up with water as both mother and daughter tried to dial 911.  While Rosario’s phone was too wet to work, her daughter was able to get through.

“She was able to call 911 from her phone, but since it got wet, I couldn’t hear what they were saying and I don’t know if they heard what I said,” she said.

But even before cops and firefighters arrived, nearby construction workers pulled both of them through the car window moments before the car became completely submerged.

“We were screaming and then these guys from a truck they came — first took me out and then took my mom out,” said Alexandra.

Car driving through flooded streets. (credit: Eva – @evatography )


In Bloomingdale, New Jersey, neighbors raced to the rescue after a lightning bolt struck a house.

“There was lightning, and I heard a big bang,  and then a couple minutes later I was in my house and I saw smoke coming out of the house, so I ran into the house and told them to get out because there was a fire,” Annette Sanders told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.

Bill and Joan Schlager said they had no idea their house was ablaze. They rushed out with their son and dog and praised the good Samaritans on their block.

The storm also pummeled several north Bergen County towns.

“It came down and it blocked the roads and power line is down. It’s a terrible situation,” one Hillsdale resident told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond With More From NJ

That resident was flooded out on Wierimus Road and actually went out to clear storm drains himself.

READ MORE: 2 Women, 4-Year-Old Girl Shot In Times Square

“In front of my house it was all clogged up and I clean up myself and it was like a little lake over here,” he said. “It was very, very bad situation,” he said.

Peter Demarest said he measured 4.9 inches of rain in a period of one hour.

Wiermus Road in Hillsdale, NJ (credit: Peter Demarest)


An East Rutherford man was struck by lightning Wednesday night while fishing at Pakanassee Lake Beach in Long Branch shortly after 5 p.m.

The man was taken to Monmouth Medical Center, where he is in the Intensive Care Unit with what are described as serious injuries.


Melissa Atkinson had a close call with Mother Nature on Wednesday. A massive and now-mangled tree slammed down just inches from her car in Mineola.

“I went to make a turn and a tree just came down in front of me and the water came up. I thought it was a tornado. I’ve never been so frightened,” Atkinson told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock.

Streets flooded out as rain pelted the earth, dumping as much as 2 inches of water per hour.

“It came down in buckets — hail and everything else and before you know it, branches were all over the place. Water was coming into the car,” Louise Lagatta said.

Lagatta’s car stalled out in the fast-rising waters.

“When it starts coming in [and] your sitting down and it hits your knees, you’ll want to jump out,” she said.

Paul Eggers said this storm ranks as the most bizarre thing he’s ever seen.

“It was like a hurricane…everything was blowing so hard,” he told CBS 2.

Several feet of water swamped cars in Mineola as intense rain came pouring down midday Wednesday. CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian saw cars getting stuck underneath the train overpass there.


In East Williston on Long Island, the storm came on fast and furious, residents told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

“It was unexpected, hailstones and everything the size of marbles, it was just coming down in buckets. It was terrible, terrible. And then a tree fell down,” one woman told D’Auria.

A huge locust tree blocked off Roslyn Road in East Williston. The woman and her husband were driving when the skies opened up, flooding their car.

“All of a sudden we’re drowning,” she told D’Auria. “I’m not happy, not happy at all. It’s dangerous and everything else. It’s too fast,” she said.

Around the corner from Roslyn Road, another woman described the torrents of rain.

“I can’t ever remember seeing rain coming in sideways. It took this big tree down. It took another tree down on my street, on Sagamore. It didn’t last that long, thank God, but it did its damage,” she told D’Auria.

“It came down in buckets,” storm photographer Scott McPartland told 1010 WINS. “My rain gauge recorded 2.12 inches of rain in just over 30 minutes, which definitely constitutes a torrential downpour.”

McPartland made his reading in Rego Park.

LIPA had a number of outages earlier, mostly in Hempstead, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Southold.  Check outages here.

Wind gusts of 60 mph were reported in Melville, and nickel-sized hail was reported in Plainview. Accuweather reported the hail in Mineola was nearly an inch thick.


Flooding Near Woodhaven Boulard - Queens, NY - Aug 15, 2012 (credit: Monica Miller / WCBS 880)

Flooding Near Woodhaven Boulard – Queens, NY – Aug 15, 2012 (credit: Monica Miller / WCBS 880)

In Queens,  WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported from near the Jackie Robinson Parkway on Woodhaven Boulevard that it was flooded under an overpass there.

Two cars were abandoned. Apparently the water came down very fast and very hard.

MORE NEWS: Bronx Man Arrested After Allegedly Pushing 60-Year-Old Man Onto Subway Tracks In East Harlem

People were trying to use a single sidewalk to get through the area in their cars.