30 dead in NJ after Ida brings catastrophic flooding
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated numerous times to reflect the rising death toll.
At least 30 people in New Jersey lost their lives after Ida brought at least two confirmed tornadoes and nearly a foot of rain across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Murphy has said that the majority of the deaths were of people who had gotten caught in submerged cars. All missing victims have been accounted for, authorities said.
The death included four people at an Elizabeth apartment building, a man who got trapped in his car in Passaic, two people who got trapped in flooded cars in Hillsborough, two bodies recovered from flood water in Bridgewater and a man who died in a storm drain in South Plainfield.
Five people also died in Hunterdon County, including a victim who died in a pickup truck that got swept into a creek.
NJ.com, citing the police director in the Mercer County township of Hopewell, said two storm-related deaths had been counted in their community, including a victim whose body was submerged in a vehicle.
The death toll in Elizabeth was revised down to four after initial reports from the city had placed the number of victims at five.
4 dead at Elizabeth apartment complex
Four people were found dead at an apartment complex Thursday morning during an evacuation of flooded units and a Passaic man was killed when he was trapped in his car.
Elizabeth city spokeswoman Kelly Martins confirmed the bodies were found at the five-story brick Oakwood Plaza apartments on Irvington Avenue near the Elizabeth River.
The owner of the building and police were going door-to-door doing wellness checks on residents after the first floor of the buildings was flooded by Wednesday's torrential rain.
Martins did not know if they were found together, if the individuals were related or the manner of death.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said radar estimates show 8-10 inches of rain fell in Elizabeth during the storm.
Mayor Christian Bollwage told New Jersey 101.5 he was at the complex until 3:30 a.m. Thursday and he's never seen the river higher.
The apartments are located across the street from Elizabeth's fire headquarters, which was flooded by 8 feet of water, according to Martins.
The residents were being evacuated to School 23, which is away from the river on Union Avenue, according to Bollwage.
Bodies recovered in Hillsborough, Bridgewater, Millford
Two people drowned in Hillsborough due to submerged vehicles in flood waters in different locations, according to Somerset County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Francis Roman.
Authorities also pulled two bodies from water in Bridgewater. Investigators have attributed those deaths to the flood but did not release other details.
Roman said there were dozens of water rescues by first responders throughout Somerset County involving local, county, state and federal agencies. There was also an explosion in Somerville but no deaths were reported.
In the Hunterdon County municipality of Millford, Mayor Henri Schepens said a pickup with the body of a victim was found in a creek near Carpenter Street.
Hunterdon officials on Thursday afternoon said another four victims died as a result of the storm.
Man trapped in car in Passaic
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told News 12 New Jersey that a 70-year-old man was trapped in his car under 6 feet of water.
"Our firefighters were able to rescue two family members from the vehicle but unfortunately we lost one individual," Lora told News 12 New Jersey.
The mayor said reports of two individuals swept away by flood waters into the Passaic River are still under investigation.
Photos and video from the storm
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ