Hurricane Ida Makes Landfall In Ulster County, Leaves Damage

Some motorists in New Paltz attempted to drive through the high hurricane waters, which Police Chief Rob Lucchesi says is a danger to themselves and first responders. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon in Louisiana just before noon local time and then a second time two hours later in Lafourche Parish on Aug. 29 – the sixteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The tail end of the storm hit Ulster County on Sept. 1 and 2.

At the time of landfall, Hurricane Ida was documented to be a Category 4 hurricane. Category 4 indicates a hurricane with winds between 130 mph to 156 mph – the damage expected from those winds include the removal of roofs, uprooting and snapping of trees, power outages and the expectation that affected areas will be uninhabitable for weeks or months after the storm.

Hurricane Ida made its way up the east coast, through New York City and up through Ulster County. The county experienced heavy rainfall which left many streets, fields and farms flooded. 

Floods on roadways led the New Paltz Police Department to close several roads that led west to Fishkill. These roads included: Old Kingston Road, parts of Huguenot Street, Route 299, Springtown Road and Dug Road. Despite these closings, some motorists decided to bypass the barricades, which resulted in two being submerged and swept northward in the strong currents.

“We did have a vehicle last evening become submerged between Wallkill View Farm and the bridge,” said New Paltz Police chief Rob Lucchesi.  “There was another incident on Dug Road. The waters were high and the current was strong, and that’s why the barricades were up; but some people chose to go around them.”

No injuries were reported in these situations. The submerged cars were left as they were after the motorists were rescued,waiting until the water level went down so they could be towed. 

“It puts our emergency responders at risk, because they have to go out and make the rescue. Those roads are closed for a reason, and people need to respect Mother Nature. That water was high and it was moving fast,” Lucchesi said.

Lucchesi also stated that the Fire Department had received many calls regarding submerged vehicles, flooded basements and many other emergencies caused by the heavy rainfall and high winds. 

Luckily for motorists, the water levels dropped after a few days. However, the farms and fields in New Paltz were not as lucky. 

The sunflowers along Route 299 were submerged in water and arose from the flood looking disheveled. The Gardens of Nutrition, located in a field by the Wallkill River, were completely flooded.

The destruction of Hurricane Ida occurred shortly after Hurricane Henri struck the northeast. 

The number and strength of tropical storms have only grown over the years. This leads many to believe climate change and the number and strength of tropical storms are directly related. 

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast predicted that there would be 13 to 20 named storms in 2021 – six to 10 would be hurricanes with three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic Ocean. By early Aug., they warned that this season would be above average. They also predicted a busy end to the season.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic coast of the United States is June 1 to Nov. 30.. However, Hurricane Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23 – making 2021 the seventh year in a row  named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season. Hurricane Ida was the ninth named storm of 2021. 

On Sept. 12, The Weather Channel reported on another tropical storm expected to hit the western Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Nicholas has the potential to become a Category 1 hurricane if it stays over the gulf long enough. 

Tropical storm warnings have been issued along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, as well as a hurricane watch along parts of the Texas middle coast. Flash floods in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are of major concern. Residents living along the Texas coast have been warned of a possible storm surge in the area.

Tropical Depression Nicholas made landfall in Texas early Tuesday morning.  Nicholas does not have nearly as high winds as Hurricane Ida did, but its velocity has decreased significantly after it made landfall – making this the most prominent issue.

Nicholas is a slow-moving storm, meaning it stays over areas for long periods of time which equivocates to more rain. Some areas are expected to receive nearly 20 inches of rain. The pace of Tropical Depression Nicholas bears resemblance to Hurricane Harvey, 2017. 

Because of its pace, Hurricane Harvey dumped  30 to 40 inches of rain over several days in certain areas.

Some areas that will be hit hard by Nicholas are areas that are still recovering from Hurricane Ida.

With the end of hurricane season nowhere in sight, it is becoming clear that there is a direct relationship between climate change and the number and strength of tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean. 

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About Kyra Russo 45 Articles
Kyra Russo (she/her) is a third-year journalism major from East Greenbush, New York. She spent two and a half semesters as a Copy Editor and is now the Managing Editor. Besides the newspaper, she is on the women’s soccer team at SUNY New Paltz and participates in the Rising Hawks leadership program. You can reach her by emailing