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2-year-old baby and parents die after being trapped in flooded New York basement apartment



Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana three days ago and the Tri-State area experienced a record-breaking amount of rainfall. An emergency flash flood warning was announced in New York and New Jersey. At least 43 people have died as a result of the flooding. Among them is the tragic death of a two-year-old child and his parents who died in New York City on Wednesday. They were found “unconscious and unresponsive” inside their home on 64th Street in Woodside, Queens, as per the NYPD. The family of three included son Ang Lama, his mother Mingma Sherpa, 48, and father Lobsang Lama, 50.

The family lived in a basement apartment and as the water started flooding in, they were trapped inside. The water came in from the window and flooded the entire apartment unit as well as the first-floor apartment. Choi Sledge, their neighbor, said about how she asked the family to flee from their apartment as the water started coming in. When the family did not come upstairs Choi called them again but the call was brief. “The last thing I hear from them is, ‘The water coming in from the window.’ And that was it,” she recalled.

The family was originally from Nepal. “The baby was so cute,” the little boy’s teacher Martha Suarez told NY Daily News. “Just a happy boy, very nice family … They didn’t call me, they didn’t cancel me, so I was coming as usual.” She came home for her daily session with the child the following day and was shocked to find the home cordoned off with yellow police tape. The 53-year-old tutor burst into tears, “This is too hard for me,” she explained. “I came to see the baby and the baby died, everybody died,” she said. “Oh, Jesus! The baby and the parents!”

Deborah Torres, 38, lives directly above the family and said she was worried about the family in the basement as well. “I wasn’t paying attention to my things — I was so worried about the family downstairs,” Torres said. “It was so fast. My daughter started to scream, ‘Mommy! Mommy! The water’s coming up!’” It was only when her sofa started bobbing in the water that she realized her house was flooded as well. Like the family of three, many of the other victims of the flash flooding also lived in basement apartments. 

Another victim was Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Weissmandl who was killed after being trapped by floodwaters near the Tappan Zee Bridge while driving home to Mount Kisco, N.Y., from Monsey. Some of the other victims included an autistic 14-month-old boy, an 86-year-old woman, and another 84-year-old victim who was found dead in the basement apartment on 84th St. near 55th Road in Elmhurst when her son returned home. Neighbors said building residents tried in vain to rescue the senior citizen. Some people were able to make it out but not everyone was that lucky. This is a harsh wake-up call to the impact climate change can have in the coming years.

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