Water flooding into a trapped elevator had reached the necks of two construction workers by the time they were rescued Sunday morning.
Edward Tyler and Windell Admaker were working in the former Staten Island Hotel in Graniteville, N.Y., -- which is being renovated into an assisted-living residence -- when they found themselves unable to open the doors of the elevator they were riding. As the elevator was still able to move, they tried taking it to different floors in the hopes of getting to a place where the doors might open.
They eventually tried taking it to the basement level, but when approaching the basement the elevator "hit water and started sinking slowly, until it sank to the bottom of the shaft," Captain Melvin of Ladder Company 86 told The New York Times.
Severe rainstorms on Saturday night and Sunday caused widespread flooding in New York City, with rainfull reaching up to eight inches, which is twice the monthly average rainfall for August.
The two men were alone in the building, and although they used a cell phone to call for help, neither knew the exact address of the building, but they knew the general coordinates.
After an hour, firefighters were able to locate them. Captain Melvin said they were standing atop a supply cart for added height, but were still submerged to their necks.
"We thought we were dead," Tyler told The New York Daily News. "I literally thought I was going to die."
"We've had plenty of elevator emergencies, but never one that's down sinking in water," Melvin told the New York Times.
"They were happy to see us," he added.