This is what happens to all the rats when cities flood

By Amanda Schupak, CNN

This is what happens to all the rats when cities flood

Updated 1:10 PM ET, Sun September 19, 2021

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In the wake of Hurricane Ida, the pummeling rain that hit cities up and down the East Coast at the start of September overwhelmed storm drains, poured into subway stations and filled basements like bathtubs. The devastating human toll is well known. Less clear is what happened to the denizens of those cities' subterranean depths: the rats.

It's impossible to know how many rats are in a city — probably on the order of millions — or how many were lost during a major storm. Experts agree that where Ida dropped record-setting rainfall, many rats living in storm sewers would surely have been killed by the sudden inundation. In New York City, 3.2 inches (8 centimeters) of rain fell in a single hour on September 1 — about an inch shy of the normal monthly total. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of rats were crushed or drowned in the deluge, Bobby Corrigan, a foremost rat expert and former rodentologist for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Gothamist. Dead rats have been spotted washed up on city beaches.Post-Ida, dead rats washed ashore in Canarsie Park in Brooklyn, New York. This photo was taken by Neal Phillip, a professor of environmental science at Bronx Community College.The New York City health department knows some rats drown when there is severe flooding, but as the city doesn't take rat censuses, there is no data on how many, spokesperson Michael Lanza said. The department uses complaints of rat sightings and inspection reports to track rodent activity. So far, reports have not increased since Ida passed through. The same is true in Philadelphia, which was also ravaged by rain, according to health department officials there.