Historic New York City Flooding and Electrocution Hazards

New York City Flooding and Electrical Hazards

Heavy rainfall is causing significant flooding in New York City [1], impacting areas across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Flash flood warnings are currently in effect for Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Long Island.

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events has put residents at risk, making it crucial for individuals and businesses to understand the safety measures and legal implications associated with flooding.

Before delving into the legal aspects, let’s examine some sobering statistics. 

 Additionally, the frequency and intensity of storms have increased, with Hurricane Sandy in 2012 serving as a stark reminder of the city’s vulnerability to coastal flooding.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, the sea levels around New York City have risen by over a foot since 1900 [2].

subway stairs flooded

Risks of Electrocution During Flooding

One of the lesser-known but significant risks during flooding is electrocution. Floodwaters can compromise electrical systems, leading to exposed wires and the potential for electric shock. 

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) [2], electrocution is a leading cause of death during floods.

The odds of dying due to electrocution are 1 in 13,176 [2]. Individuals must exercise extreme caution and avoid contact with electrical equipment and outlets in flooded areas.

For example, If your breaker box is only accessible when standing in flood waters, then don’t shut it off by yourself.

Precautions to Take While Driving:

  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown: The mantra “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” is not just a saying; it’s a critical piece of advice. If you encounter a flooded road, turn around and find an alternative route. Attempting to drive through floodwaters is extremely dangerous. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters.” [4] 
  • Avoid Fast-Flowing Water: Even if the water level seems manageable, avoid driving through fast-flowing water. It takes surprisingly little water to lift a vehicle or sweep it away.


  • Check Road Conditions: Before setting out, check local news, weather reports, and road condition updates. If there are warnings about flooded roads, plan an alternate route or delay your trip until conditions improve.


  • Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, and reduce your speed. Sudden stops or quick maneuvers can be risky on wet and flooded roads.


  • Use Headlights: Turn on your headlights, even during daylight, to enhance visibility. This not only helps you see better but also makes your vehicle more visible to others.


  • Don’t Park in Flood-Prone Areas: If you need to leave your vehicle, avoid parking in areas prone to flooding. Rising water levels can quickly surround a parked vehicle, making it difficult to move or retrieve.


  • Stay Informed: Listen to weather updates while driving. If conditions worsen, it’s essential to have the latest information to make informed decisions.
  • Follow Emergency Instructions: If emergency services or law enforcement are directing traffic or providing instructions, follow them without hesitation. They are trained to manage crises and ensure public safety.


Remember that personal safety should always be the top priority, and it’s better to delay travel plans than to put yourself in a potentially life-threatening situation.

sub flood

Injury Facts During Flooding

In the chaos of flooding, injuries can occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [6], common injuries during floods include:

Electrocution Risk in New York City Flooding: Who is to blame?

While flooding is considered an act of God, making it difficult to collect damages, there are instances in which you can bring a Tort Claim.

It is best to consult an experienced New York City personal injury attorney before feeling you have no lawsuit.

subway flooded

Tort Claims in New York City

In the fiscal year (FY) 2022, there was a notable shift in City payouts for personal injury and property damage claims, known as Tort Claims. This marks the first rise since fiscal year 208 and covers incidents like slips and falls, medical malpractice, accidents, police-related issues, and property damage. There was a 28 percent uptick in filed tort claims and a 20 percent increase in the amount paid out for settlements and judgments. It’s important to note that New York taxpayers are still dealing with claims that go back more than ten years. [6]

In FY 2022, the City paid $688.4 million for tort claims, surpassing the previous year’s $583.0 million by $105.5 million. Notably, $82.5 million was allocated for settling personal injury claims filed before FY 2013, often termed as “legacy claims”. Excluding these legacy claims, the payouts for personal injury claims rose from $520.2 million in FY 2021 to $598.5 million in FY 2022. [6]

In the face of increasing flood risks, understanding the legal implications, precautions, and safety measures is critical for residents and businesses to be proactive in safeguarding themselves and their assets. A comprehensive approach is key to navigating the challenges posed by flooding in New York City.


[1 ]Shapiro, E., Golembo, M., & Griffin, M. (2023, September 29). New York City faces major flooding as heavy rain inundates region. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/US/new-york-city-braces-major-flooding-heavy-rain/story?id=103593175

[2] Climate Change Effects and Impacts – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. (n.d.). https://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/94702.html

[3] Odds of Dying – Injury Facts. (2023, March 1). Injury Facts. https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/all-injuries/preventable-death-overview/odds-of-dying/

[4] Turn Around Don’t Drown®. (n.d.). https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood-turn-around-dont-drown

[5] CDC Works 24/7. (2023, September 29). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/

[6] New York City Comptroller. (2023, April 14). Annual Claims Report Fiscal Year 2022. https://comptroller.nyc.gov/. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/annual-claims-report/

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