Governor warns New Yorkers to stay off the roads as torrential rain pounds Big Apple

New Yorkers braved heavy rain on July 16.
Photo by Dean Moses

Governor Kathy Hochul warned New Yorkers to stay off the roads Sunday as the latest summer storm rolled in, causing flash flooding.

Hochul stood in her Midtown office on July 16 as rain hammered the streets outside. There, she implored the public to heed her warnings as the storm caused flooding upstate and property damage across the five boroughs. 

“Mother Nature is not quite done with us yet. Just minutes ago, the National Weather Service upgraded the flood watch to a flood warning which is far more serious for the immediate vicinity of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Nassau and Westchester counties that has an effect till 4 p.m. today but as a likelihood of being extended beyond that,” Hochul said.

Governor Kathy Hochul warned New Yorkers to stay off the roads on Sunday as the latest summer storm rolled in. Photo by Dean Moses

New Yorkers could be seen running for cover on Sunday afternoon as torrential rainfall battered the Big Apple. Meanwhile, reports of flooding began to file in with a tornado watch in effect for parts of Long Island. The governor also warned New Yorkers to be ready to move at a moment’s notice if waters begin to rise.

“A flash flood doesn’t give you warning, it comes literally in a flash. And in those moments, your car can go from a place of safety to a place of death,” Hochul charged. “We cannot control what waters will do as they start to rise and can trap you in your own vehicle and especially if you’re traveling with family members, especially if you’re traveling with children.” 

New Yorkers braved heavy rain on July 16. Photo by Dean Moses

Hochul stressed that there are precautionary measures in place to help aid with storm relief, including 4,000 state personnel from the Department of Transportation on hand, as well as 5,500 utility workers ready to fix and restore power outages.

“We have sandbag machines, 3,500 sandbags, and 25 tons of sand in Orange County,” Hochul said. “And as I said before, this is possibly our new normal. This is the kind of weather that even what should only be a beautiful beach going Sunday in July, can turn into a devastating catastrophe because of Mother Nature. And so we’re still in recovery phase from last week’s storm.”

The state made a major disaster declaration to the Biden administration after last week’s storm — one, the governor said Sunday, caused an estimated $50 million worth of damage across New York. After surveying that destruction, Hochul spoke to home and business owners who expressed frustration trying to get aid when they don’t have or cannot afford flood insurance.

New Yorkers braved heavy rain on July 16. Photo by Dean Moses

“We’re also trying to find a source and I know there’s a lot of frustration I heard it firsthand from the homeowners. It is not a natural undertaking for people to have flood insurance in most of New York State unless you live along one of the coastal areas,” Hochul said.

The extreme flooding and heavy rainstorms have become more frequent, the governor said, prompting her administration to investigate ways for homeowners to have access to insurance without going into debt for it.

“The fact is we need to have a conversation about how we can make flood insurance more affordable and accessible to New Yorkers,” Hochul added. “We are looking to identify additional funding which we’ll be announcing in the next couple of days.”

New Yorkers braved heavy rain on July 16.Photo by Dean Moses