Navigating NYC Floods: Safety, Precautions, and Legal Perspective

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.

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

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) [3], electrocution is a leading cause of death during floods. The odds of dying due to electrocution are 1 in 13,176 [4]. 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.

Risks of Electrocution During Flooding

FAQ about Flooding and Precautions

Prioritize your safety and that of your loved ones. If authorities recommend evacuation, follow their instructions promptly. If you stay, move to higher ground and avoid flooded areas, as water can be deeper and faster-moving than it appears.

Develop an emergency plan, including an evacuation route, and ensure that all family members are aware of it. Assemble an emergency kit with essential supplies, including water, non-perishable food, medications, and important documents. Stay informed through weather updates and alerts.

Yes, flooding poses health risks. Follow these tips:

  • Avoid floodwater contact: It may contain contaminants.
  • Use protective gear: Wear boots and gloves.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands after contact.
  • Discard contaminated food: Consume only safe water and food.
  • Prevent mold: Dry and clean areas promptly.
  • Seek medical attention: Address injuries promptly.
  • Beware of mosquitoes: Use repellent to prevent vector-borne diseases.
  • Monitor mental health: Stay connected and seek help if needed.

It is highly advised not to drive through flooded areas. Floodwaters can conceal hazards such as debris, open manholes, and washed-out roads. The depth and force of the water can pose serious threats to both the vehicle and its occupants. Twelve inches of water can float most cars, and two feet of rushing water can carry away even SUVs and trucks [5].

Precautions to Take While Driving:

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.

Precautions to Take While Driving

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 Safety 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 with an experienced New York City personal injury attorney before deciding that you have no lawsuit.

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

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 2008 and covers incidents like slip-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. New York taxpayers are still dealing with claims that go back more than ten years. [7]

In FY 2022, the city paid $688.4 million for tort claims, surpassing the previous year’s $583 million by $105.5 million. Notably, $82.5 million was allocated for settling personal injury claims filed before FY 2013, often termed “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. [7]

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 30). New York City faces major flooding as heavy rain inundates region. ABC News.

[2] Climate Change Effects and Impacts – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. (n.d.).

[3] Flood | Impact. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2023, from

[4] Odds of Dying – Injury Facts. (2023, March 1). Injury Facts.

[5] Turn Around Don’t Drown®. (n.d.).

[6] CDC Works 24/7. (2023, September 29). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[7] Annual Claims Report Fiscal Year 2022. (2023, April 14). Retrieved September 30, 2023, from

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