Officers waded chest-deep in black water on Wednesday as they attempted to enter a basement in the Borough of Pure, where the family found themselves trapped.
An officer’s body cam video shows another officer first sinking into the opaque water, then diving below the surface of personal belongings including a teddy bear.
He is then quickly pulled up by the other officer and appears to be frustrated.
The New York City Police Department said their efforts were hampered by locked doors, rising water and bright electricity, which forced them to call the fire department for help.
“Without special equipment, they made a valiant effort,” the force said on Twitter.
When the specialized units arrived, they found three people who had drowned and declared them dead.
The deceased were then identified as Ang Gelu Lama, 50, Mingma Sherpa, 48, and their son, Lobsang Lama, two.
Police said an unconfirmed report of people in a flooded apartment originally brought them to the house in the Woodside area.
“Upon arrival, police observed that the rainwater levels were about two feet above street level across the first floor of the location with the basement completely submerged,” said an NYPD spokesperson told Fox News in a statement.
Flooding last week killed at least 11 people in New York City who were unable to escape rising waters in basements.
At least 64 people across the United States have died after the northeastern states of the country were battered by record-breaking rainfall caused by Storm Ida.