They climbed into rafts and river boats, Humvees and the bucket of a front-end loader to escape the rapidly rising water, as heavy rain lashed the northeast on Tuesday.
Flash floods snarled traffic and upended transportation across the New York region, leaving some fire departments overwhelmed by calls for assistance.
More than six inches of rain inundated swaths of Connecticut on Tuesday, flooding streets and college campuses and making for a challenging evening commute for many in the region. Parts of New York and New Jersey were also swamped by more than four inches in the past 24 hours.
Sections of Routes 1 and 9 in northern New Jersey, roadways that provide a key link to the George Washington Bridge and to the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, were closed because of flooding. The northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway were also closed after traffic backed up from the Routes 1 and 9 shutdowns.
In the Bronx, parts of the Mosholu Parkway were flooded near Interstate 87, and a portion of the Bronx River Parkway looked like a calm shallow river by late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, flooding also blocked a segment of Riverside Drive in northern Manhattan.
Interstate 95 near Norwalk, Conn., flooded, causing lane closures and congestion. About 10 miles away, in Stamford, fire department officials reported having to make “dozens of water rescues” because of the rain and urged drivers to stay off the road.
With much of the area inundated and normal access roads blocked, rescuers around the region resorted to some creative vessels to ferry stranded commuters across the flooded streets.
In Stamford, students who were on a school bus that stalled out in the floods were rescued in a large white canoe, pulled through the water by a rubber-booted rescuer.
In the New Jersey town of Fairview, nearly a hundred workers in a local warehouse were trapped by the sudden flash flood and unable to get to their cars. The local fire department asked Eddie Smith, 56, if they could use his front-end loader to carry people across the water in the front bucket.
“The water was about four feet,” said Mr. Smith, who goes by Igor. “When I got there, people started piling into the bucket. I made about seven or eight trips. The bucket was full.”
Mr. Smith said he rescued about 45 people.
“I started about 2 o’clock in the morning last night,” he said. “I have to get home. And now my vehicle is stranded.”
Bus service throughout New Jersey was subject to delays because of the weather and the PATH train system was allowing bus passengers to use their tickets to board trains in Newark.
Flights into Newark Liberty International Airport were subject to delays of up to an hour and 24 minutes, according to the airport’s Twitter feed.
In the town of Hackensack, N.J., fire officials said they had conducted multiple water rescues and had advised residents to stay off all roads.
“We’ve probably removed about 10 or 15 people from vehicles in various spots in the city that usually flood due to heavy rain,” said Capt. Justin Derevyanik of the Hackensack Fire Department. He said that they were using an inflatable boat and a high-water vehicle to remove people who were trapped in the floodwaters.
Carl Mancini, 61, who works as a warehouse manager in Hackensack, said he and six colleagues had to leave their cars in their company’s parking lot to avoid being stranded.
“People get stuck here all the time,” he said of a stretch of South Newman Street outside his workplace. “It looks like a river.”
Still, some drivers attempted to make their regular commutes despite the weather. Daniel Chacon, 67, who also works in the area, said he saw at least two cars get stuck in the floodwaters.
“We are going to have to wait for the sun to dry it all out,” Mr. Chacon said. “There’s no drainage here.”
By midafternoon on Tuesday, some service had recovered from earlier weather incidents. Flooding had briefly knocked out one of the two eastbound tracks on the Newark-World Trade Center PATH lines at the Journal Square station in Jersey City, N.J., causing some delays, but the track had been reopened before the afternoon commute.
But at the intersection Cypress Avenue and River Road in Bogota, N.J., an impromptu lake slowly encroached on a train overpass.
Just on the other side of the overpass, a big yellow roadside sign offered a warning: “Road May Flood.”
Edgar Sandoval contributed reporting from Hackensack, N.J.