Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Friday that federal funds promised by President Joe Biden have been approved to help New York recover from the historic rain fall and flooding Wednesday night. Credit: NY Governor's office

This story was reported by Alfonso A. Castillo, Matthew Chayes, Joan Gralla, Carl MacGowan and Jean-Paul Salamanca. It was written by Chayes.

Travel bans and forced evacuations from basements are likely the next time a catastrophic rainstorm is about to hit New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday, after Hurricane Ida’s remnants killed 13 people in Queens and Brooklyn.

Such new mandates are needed because flooding now ravages neighborhoods beyond coastal areas, where storms traditionally wreaked their worst havoc, and are doing so faster than before, de Blasio said. Those who died locally in Ida had been suddenly deluged — trapped and drowned in basement apartments or trapped in cars on roadways.

"What we saw in some of these basement apartments on Wednesday was people needed to be evacuated who were far away from the coast, because of the sheer intensity and speed, the amount of the rain that came in such a brief period of time," de Blasio said on CNN. "We're gonna need to now have the ability to send police, fire, etc., out to go and evacuate people in places we never would have imagined in the past. And we're gonna have to tell people, 'prepare to be evacuated.'"

Also on Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced that the state had secured an emergency disaster declaration from the federal government for 14 counties affected by the storm, including Nassau, Suffolk and those of New York City. The declaration immediately unlocks up to $5 million, and more money later, to cope with the storm damage.

The scene early Thursday on a flooded expressway in Brooklyn.

The scene early Thursday on a flooded expressway in Brooklyn. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/ED JONES

Nassau County is considering neither mandatory evacuations nor travel bans, said Jordan Carmon, a spokesman for County Executive Laura Curran. The press office of Suffolk's county executive, Steve Bellone, did not respond Friday to a message seeking an answer for that county.

De Blasio and Hochul have said the region needs to bolster infrastructure, including drainage, to mitigate flooding.

Asked about de Blasio's proposal, the governor said: "There are so many things we should be doing. Evacuation is part of it. It's about getting the warning out to people, and there'll be times when we literally need to go door to door to reach people."

Hochul said she wants to consider sealing the subway system, which she and the state control through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in advance of catastrophic storms, to allow only exits, not new entries. She likened the idea to her experience in her snowy upstate hometown of Buffalo where highway access is blocked during storms.

Door-to-door alerts

To commence the evacuations de Blasio previewed, the city would send cellphone alerts and dispatch city personnel to go door to door, particularly in neighborhoods known to have a higher concentration of basement apartments, de Blasio said at his daily news conference.

Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Buildings, said in an email that the agency doesn’t track the number of legal basement apartments. But de Blasio said a rough estimate is 50,000, with about 100,000 people.

There are at least 313,000 basements that could be apartments in New York City, according to an estimate from May by a group called BASE seeking to legalize the dwellings. The estimate is not all basement apartments, but those the group says are suitable to be legalized.

De Blasio also said Friday: "A travel ban is the kind of thing I want to introduce into the equation early in each storm as a possibility and then pull the trigger if I have to and literally tell people, 'off the streets, out of the subways, clear the way.'"

New York City saw historic rainfall during Ida, both in single-hour accumulation and total rainfall, at certain spots, including at LaGuardia Airport.

The storm flooded the subways and roadways, stranding passengers and motorists. The NYPD has said at least 469 cars and trucks were abandoned, and more than 800 people evacuated from the subways. With no way to get home, some people had to sleep underground in the subway system overnight. There were at least 1,000 buildings reported damaged, said the city's head of emergency management, John Scrivani.

The death toll was 11 in Queens and two in Brooklyn, with the youngest victim 2 years old. Rescuers were searching to see whether there were any more.

"I'm praying that we have closed the book on this, but ... it is too early to tell. And NYPD, fire, EMS, everyone's out there still following up," de Blasio said.

LI rebounds

In northwest Nassau communities hit by the storm, life seemed to have returned to normal Friday morning.

At the Great Neck train station, where torrents of stormwater had poured onto the tracks, prompting the station’s closure and a visit Thursday from Hochul, trains were running on their regular schedules Friday as if nothing had happened the day before. In Port Washington and Sands Point, intersections that had been turned into lakes Thursday were dry and clear Friday.

But there was still a mess in some places.

Rick Smith, a tenant in a home on Hallock House property,...

Rick Smith, a tenant in a home on Hallock House property, cleans up storm damage Friday. Credit: Danielle Silverman

About a half-dozen volunteers in Rocky Point were working to remove debris from the three-century-old Hallock House, a museum owned by the Rocky Point Historical Society.

The basement had been flooded, destroying a furnace and water heater, damaging tea cups used for an annual fundraiser and ruining the personal belongings of a tenant, said Suzanne Johnson, the society’s president.

Insurance won’t pay for a new furnace and water heater, which combined will cost several thousand dollars, she said.

The damage threatens to put a damper on plans to mark the house’s 300th birthday later this year, Johnson said.

"We were so happy. We were celebrating the 300th anniversary of the house," she said. " … We were looking for something a little fun, but we’re going to have to deal with this first."

Assessing emergency response

Hochul said Friday that a task force would assess the emergency response to the storm to find any shortcomings or improvements.

She said such alerts sent about the storm possibly should have been translated into more languages and that sending emergency workers to these risk-prone areas would make sure no one misses warnings because they don't have cellphones.

While New York "built up the shoreline after Superstorm Sandy in 2012," both Ida and Henri, which deluged the tristate area just days before, have demonstrated more must be done to protect the state from these kinds of intense rainfalls, she said.

President Joe Biden has approved emergency declarations for both New York and New Jersey, and Hochul said there was no doubt her state has suffered "multi-multimillions of dollars" of damages.

Hochul urged anyone whose home or property was damaged to document repairs so they can get reimbursed.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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