- Sunanda Upadhye, 56, of Iselin; Dhanush Reddy, 31 of Edison; and Malathi Kanche, 46, of Raritan, perished, while the search continues for Nidhi Rana, 18, and Ayush Rana, 21 — both of Passaic.
At least three Indian Americans in New Jersey are confirmed dead and two reportedly missing after being caught in Hurricane Ida, one of the deadliest storms in the state’s history. Sunanda Upadhye, 56, of Iselin; Dhanush Reddy, 31 of Edison; and Malathi Kanche, 46, of Raritan, perished in the storm that ravaged the northeast last week.
Gov. Phil Murphy said on Sept. 3 that at least four people remain missing in the state. Among them are college students – Nidhi Rana, 18, and Ayush Rana, 21 – both of Passaic. The two were together in a car and were last seen around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 1, getting out of their car near a storm drain that empties into the Passaic River. “My wife, she’s not eating nothing,” Rana’s father told CBS. “Very dangerous situation at home. Serious matter.”
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told the Associated Press that a dozen boats were being used to aid the state police air unit in the search. NorthJersey.com reported that Nidi Rana is a commuter student at Seton Hall University, while Ayush Rana had just transferred to Montclair State University but had not yet attended classes. Both formerly attended Passaic High School, played tennis and were named prom king and queen, NJ.com reported.
Upadhye was drowned while walking to her home on Gill Lane early on Sept. 2 morning, Woodbridge police told local media. She was reported missing by her husband early that morning when she didn’t come home from work. When officers and the fire department began a search of the flooded area, they found Upadhye’s body near the Cooper Avenue Park in Iselin, mycentraljersey.com reported.
Reddy was reportedly killed when he was swept into a 36-inch storm sewer in South Plainfield, according to a statement from South Plainfield Mayor Matthew Anesh. While the rescue team managed to pull one man downstream in Piscataway, Reddy’s body was found on Sept. 1 morning in a wooded area behind in Piscataway.
Kanche, who was driving back after dropping her son at Rutgers University with her daughter, was caught in the flash floodwaters on Route 22 in Bridgewater, Kanche’s family member Mansi Mago told Bridgewater Patch. The mother-daughter duo was in the front of a Lexus dealership, and they decided to get out of the car. Kanche’s daughter swam to the dealership and was rescued, Mansi said. However, Kanche did not know how to swim and was last seen near the dealership. Her death was confirmed by the family on social media on Sept. 2 after her body was traced.
In New York, Ang Gelu Lama, 50, his wife, Mingma Sherpa, 48, and their 2-year-old baby, Lobsang Lama, all drowned in their basement apartment in Queens. Neighbor Debrah Torres told The New York Post that “it was impossible to get out,” as “it was like a pool with stairs.” Torres told The Post that even though the Nepali American family called their landlord for help, they were “inundated within minutes.”
In Jamaica, Phamatee Ramskriet, 43, and her 22-year-old son Khrishah Ramskriet drowned in their basement apartment, landlord Ragendra Shivprasad told The Post. “You guys gotta get out from there. The water is rising,” he recalled telling them — but it was too late. As the family was desperately unplugging electronics and trying to pack a bag, the floodwaters suddenly knocked down a wall and surged through the apartment, he said.
Top photo, floods in New Jersey after remnants of Hurricane Ida, 02 September 2021. (New Jersey State Police).