As nearly 8 inches of rain poured onto the city on Sunday, two men nearly drowned in an elevator filled with gushing rain and sewer water.
Construction workers Edward Tyler, 26, and Wendell Amaker, 48, both of New Jersey, found themselves submerged in a nightmare on Staten Island.
The two had been moving supplies for renovations at the former Staten Island Hotel when the elevator sunk to the bottom floor and stopped responding. That’s when water from the flooded basement began leaking in through the locked doors.
“We thought we were dead,” Tyler told the New York Daily News. “I literally thought I was going to die.”
After frantically calling 911, the men finally reached rescuers, but could not give them an exact address, only an intersection. When the FDNY tried to call them back, their phones were already underwater.
“They dialed 911 15 times, but couldn’t get a signal,” Amaker's wife, Debra Williams, told Metro.
“As we walked in, we heard people screaming,” said Ladder 86’s Captain James Melvin. “The water was up to their necks.”
Melvin and his men immediately cut power to the elevator and began to pry open the top hatch to rescue the pair. The FDNY team put a ladder through the top of the opening and down into the mix of rain and sewage water.
“There was no way they were getting out themselves,” Melvin said. “A couple more hours, they could have drowned. The water was semi-sewage.”
The men were brought to the nearby station house for a hot shower.
Williams was relieved after her husband’s ordeal. “I gave him a big hug,” she said.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.