February 5, 2023

New York Flood: What it was like to be stranded overnight at subway stations and trains

This ride, took about 14.

Amid heavy rain and flooding, a 24-year-old New York University law school student was stranded overnight without electricity, ventilation, food or water. The toilets were unusable. She says at night she heard false promises on the way to help.

“We were really and symbolically in the dark for several hours,” he told CNN.

Akbari was one of thousands of people stranded on public transportation in the New York metro area Wednesday night. No mode of transportation escaped. Roads, subways, overhead trains and airports were all flooded by the storm.

New York declared a state of emergency early Thursday morning, the first flood emergency ever delivered to the city. The city also imposed a curfew until 5 p.m. Those announcements came too late for many travelers, however, who were stranded in travel centers far from home.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority outlined the problems early Thursday: the subway system was flooded at 46 locations, about 65 buses were blocked or stranded and two Metro North Line trains were stopped. In addition, all New Jersey transport train services except the Atlantic City Railroad were suspended due to flooding.

The New York City Fire Department must rescue hundreds of people from subway stations, spokesman Frank Duer said. The head of the MDA said about 15 to 20 subway trains were stopped.

“The most important thing is that we evacuated the people safely,” said Jano Liber, MDA executive chairman and chief executive officer.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul told CNN on Thursday that New York City was paralyzed by an unprecedented storm.

“We actually went through the tracks all night to make sure transport workers were safe,” he said. “The flood was heavy. No lives were lost there.”

NJ was stuck in transit

NJ said there were about 200 passengers on train 3881, which departed from New York at 7:43 pm towards Transit Trenton. NJ Transit spokeswoman Marilus Garcia-Diaz said the train was grounded at about 8:30 p.m., due to heavy flooding on the tracks east of Newark International Airport.

Akbari, Ian Wolston, Ilia Rivera and Alexandra Patino were among those passengers and described a very disappointing bad trip due to lack of information.

A couple of stops on the way, the train stopped on the tracks as it started to rain and flood. Passengers were told that there was an engine malfunction on the train and that a rescue train was coming. But the hour went by without much information. So they sat down.

Rivera, 30, who works in fashion, said water levels near the train’s window were rising.

“I actually sit by the window and look at the water almost at my level,” he said. “I said, ‘Do I have to swim from here?’

Garcia-Diaz said three cars at one end of the train had a few inches of water so passengers could be transferred to other cars that were not affected.

After waiting for several hours, the electricity was turned off — no lights, no air conditioning and no ventilation, and no windows or doors open due to rain. The passengers eventually realized they were trapped at night and tried to fall asleep.

Wolston, 27, moved to his home in East Brunswick, New Jersey, where travelers initially found the situation amusing.

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“But very quickly it got dark,” he said. “Once the electricity is disconnected from the trains, it’s completely useless. It’s one thing to be dark, because we sleep anyway, but there’s no air conditioning and no ventilation, so you think with Kovit, like, ‘What the hell is going to happen if the wind doesn’t go anywhere?’ That changed very quickly. “

Patino, 30, who was traveling from Queens to see her boyfriend in Edison, New Jersey, said she was frustrated by the lack of information from train operators.

“The updates are horrible and no one really tells us what’s going on,” he said.

Eventually the rain stopped, but the doors and windows of the train were mostly closed. Early in the morning, the people rioted. Akbari said he saw people’s masks coming down, the smell of cigarettes and weed smoke, and saw a woman on the verge of panic attack. However, there is no reliable information on when they can move again.

NJ Transit spokesman Garcia-Diaz, emergency responders and Newark fire department personnel were at the scene with two high water rescue vehicles, but they eventually decided to keep passengers and staff safe on the train. No one was hurt.

“The decision to stop customers on the train was a safer choice because the train cars were raised high enough above the floodwaters,” he said in an email.

At 4 a.m., traffic police arrived with water bottles and opened the doors for fresh air.

“I think I started to panic a little bit,” Akbari said. “When I reached the door opened by the traffic officers, I could say I was trembling a little, and there were tears in my eyes because I was so overwhelmed by the situation. So it was definitely scary,” she said.

A rescue train finally arrived an hour later and dragged the inactive train to Newark Airport. There, passengers were told to get off and wait on the platform for the working train.

After all, the passengers went to CNN and they got home safely.

Patino took that next train to Edison and went to her boyfriend’s place at 7 a.m. Rivera Elizabeth, took the train to the Wolston Metro Park stop at 7 a.m. and got home at 6:45 p.m.

Akbari took the train to Trenton and arrived there at 7:30 am – almost 12 hours from the time of her departure. Her mother took her in a car and it took her two more hours to get home to Princeton as they drove through the closed and flooded streets.

“It was definitely an adventure,” Akbari said. “I think it’s a little easier to look back now than when the situation was expanding.”

Trapped at the subway station

CNN’s Shimon Proguebex stayed overnight at the Times Square subway station in Manhattan and joined dozens of people stranded by the dysfunctional organization. A train sat at the station from 9:45 pm and only moved to one stop after 7am.

“Many of these people have no way to get home. Tunnels are their way of life. This is the way they go home,” Prokubech said.

Many of the stranded people were coming home from work and hoping to return to their homes in Brooklyn.

Beverly Price is one of the victims of the floods.

She said she left her Queen’s house Wednesday night to go to work as a nurse. She took Uber to a bus stop. But the buses did not run because of the flood, so she got stuck at the station. She boarded a different bus to try a different route to work, but that route was blocked by flooded streets, she said.

Next, she boarded train 7 and was taken to Times Square station, where she arrived at 11:30 pm – she was stuck there for the night. There are no buses or trains to go anywhere. She said she had lived in New York for 30 years and “I have never seen anything like it.”

“I didn’t expect it to be so harsh,” he said. “I will never leave my house.”

Robert Hedglin left work in Manhattan at 9pm and climbed into the subway leading to his Queens home. But his train got stuck underground for more than an hour between two station stops. As soon as the train arrived at the next stop, the rest of its journey was canceled, he told CNN.

There are no carriages, trains or buses to get home. So he drank at a bar until 12:30 at midnight or went to a restaurant until 3 in the morning, when he finally took home the $ 104 lift ride.

“I was tired and frustrated, but at least I got home safely,” he said. “Some other people have no luck.”

CNN’s Guidlon Collins, Angela Diwan, Justin Lear, Brandon Miller, Mark Morales, Shimon Brockepex and David Williams contributed to the report.