3 police officers cling to trees for hours after flooding from Ida left them stranded

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Three New Jersey police officers attempting rescues in Ida floodwaters quickly found themselves calling for help – clinging to trees for hours to stay alive.  

Officer James Hoffman was trying to rescue a person Thursday night when his police vehicle was lifted by rising waters, according to a Facebook post by the Hopewell Township.

"He removed the gear he was wearing and was able to escape the vehicle through the window," the post said. 

Hoffman plunged into fast-moving flood waters that carried him 100 yards until he was able to grab ahold of a tree. 

Two other officers, Michael Makwinski and Robert Voorhees, then tried to save Hoffman, when they found themselves in the same predicament.

The three officers hung on to trees for around two hours before they were rescued. 

Animal rescue:Cow stuck in tree after Hurricane Ida rescued by workers in Louisiana bayou

NJ.com reported that the officers shot their guns to help rescuers find their location. Two officers were taken to a local hospital where they were examined and released. 

“We easily could have lost three officers last night,” Police Director Bob Karmazin said, according to the post. 

“They had a total disregard for their own safety, and we’re very lucky they were able to hold on the way they did,” Karmazin told NJ.com.

Ida's path of destruction stretched from the Big Easy to the Big Apple. 

Twenty-three deaths were reported in New York and 16 were reported in New Jersey as a result of flooding from Ida's aftermath. 

Videos circulating on social media captured the historic flooding of subways, apartments and roadways in the Northeast.

"My message to everyone who is affected – we're all in this together," President Biden said in an address to the nation Thursday. "This isn't about politics. Hurricane Ida didn't care if you were a Democrat or a Republican."

How to help:Donate or volunteer to assist those affected by Hurricane Ida

A view of Ida's catastrophic damage:Drone and satellite images reveal homes and neighborhoods flooded by Ida

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

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