At least 18 people have died in the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the United States, AP reported on Thursday. More than 1,50,000 houses in the three states are without power, according to The New York Times.

Earlier in the day, New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency as heavy rain from the hurricane inundated the streets and hampered flight services. Over 300 flights to and from the Newark Airport in New Jersey were cancelled, according to CNBC.

In a state of emergency, a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in case of a disaster or a situation that poses danger to the country.

The National Weather Service also issued a flash flood emergency for the first time ever.

Hurricane Ida with its wind speeds of 230 km per hour is the fifth-strongest storm that the United States has endured. It arrived in Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday with an intensity that reversed the flow of the Mississippi river and damaged many houses.

By Wednesday, the storm arrived over the New England region of the United States, according to AP.

New York Mayor Bill de Baliso said that the city was “enduring a historic weather event” with “record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on the road”.

Officials in New York City banned travel till early Thursday, according to AP. Emergency vehicles were exempted from the ban.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also urged people to stay off the streets. The hurricane here ravaged many homes and damaged the roof of the US Postal Service building in New Jersey on Wednesday, AP reported.

The National Weather Service recorded 3.15 inches of rain within an hour on Wednesday night in New York’s Central Park area.

The weather agency subsequently issued a flash flood emergency as the rain hampered the traffic on road, affected the services of subway trains and airports.

“A flash flood emergency is issued for exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon,” the weather agency said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority – New York’s public transport body – suspended the subway service on Wednesday as water cascaded down the platforms, AP reported. The Newark Liberty Airport also experienced flooding, resulting in suspension of all the flights, The New York Times reported. However, some flights resumed 90 minutes later.

Tornado warning

Around 9 pm on Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Bronx, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, according to The New York Times.

“You are in a life-threatening situation,” the service said in a statement. “Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul asked the state agencies to chalk out plans to handle emergencies. She also cautioned against a tornado in the downstate area. “More than 5,000 utility workers across the state have been prepared for damage and restoration responses,” she added.