Cleanup underway after flooding, heavy winds hit Philly region

Up to 3 inches of water fell on portions of the region, with wind gusts of 60 mph recorded at the Jersey Shore.

Kelly Drive flooded.

The Schuylkill River floods Kelly Drive at North Ferry Road, closing it in both directions from Midvale Avenue to West Hunting Park Avenue. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Delaware Valley is in cleanup mode after a winter storm dumped several inches of rain throughout the region, resulting in creeks, streams and rivers spilling over their banks. The rain, combined with high winds that blew through Tuesday afternoon, knocked down trees and power cables.

In Philadelphia, roads along the Schuylkill River were shut down, as was the I-95 exit at Delaware Avenue. In New Jersey, the Tacony Palmyra Bridge has reopened, but flooding made the Admiral Wilson Boulevard and Brooklawn Circle tough to navigate, closing those two major roadways for a period on Wednesday morning.

Kelly Drive flooded.
The Schuylkill River floods Kelly Drive at North Ferry Road, closing it in both directions from Midvale Avenue to West Hunting Park Avenue. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Neshaminy Creek rose over 13 feet, bringing it close to the major flood stage before it will recede. The Delaware River crested at 11.99 feet in Burlington just before 1 a.m.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter for residents impacted by Darby Creek flooding in  Collingdale, Delaware County, where the fire department is washing down MacDade Boulevard to remove caked mud and get it reopened.

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While winds in Philadelphia and other inland spots hit 40 miles per hour, locations at the Jersey Shore saw wind speeds up to 60 mph. Some back bay flooding has also been seen in the shore areas.

SETPA’s Paoli-Thorndale line suspended service for the morning commute, and trolley Routes 13 and 101 used shuttle buses to deal with the post-rain flooding. Full SEPTA transit updates can be found online.

The transit agency’s Broad Street Line was busing for a time between Girard Avenue and Lombard Street, and power issues are still creating problems.

PECO crews are whittling away at households without power from the wind and rain. The outage number reached a peak of 123,000 Tuesday night, with the majority of outages in Chester County.

Delmarva Power is reporting just over 10,000 customers impacted, while just over 9,000 PSE&G customers are awaiting power. Most of those New Jersey outages are in Camden and Burlington counties. Atlantic City Electric is reporting more than 20,000 customers impacted.

Brooklawn Circle and Admiral Wilson Boulevard in New Jersey were also shut down due to the weather and the Jersey Shore areas from Atlantic City South had to deal with back bay flooding that left streets underwater.

Delco first responders initiated 27 water rescues in 6 hours

As of Wednesday morning, more than 10,000 PECO customers in Delaware County are without power. That’s a little less than 5% of PECO’s total customer base in the county. Delco is in the preliminary stages of its damage assessment, but the storm has left an obvious impact across the county.

“We really saw storm damage, the wind and flooding in some local areas,” said Tim Boyce, the director of Delco’s Department of Emergency Services. “For the most part, we survived, but a lot of homes and homeowners are waking up this morning to damaged siding, trees on their lawn or roofs ripped off. We’re fortunate. We do not seem to have any major injuries in the county.”

Boyce said the assessment process will be different in each municipality.

While Boyce said the impact from this storm was not as severe as the remnants of Hurricane Ida back in 2021, heavy rainfall was still a significant threat.

“There were nearly 2,000 emergencies including 27 events where people had to be rescued by water units — including one pretty dramatic one in Aston Township where a person ventured in to look at something, the water rose and they had to be rescued,” he said. “So 27 water events in six hours is significant.”

Montgomery County officials are ‘appreciative’ of people listening to warnings

Todd Stieritz, the deputy director of public affairs for the Montgomery County Department of Public Safety, said he’s hesitant to downplay the severity of the storm — especially when the damage can be extremely localized.

Stieritz said the county avoided the serious damage that has been brought on by storms of the last few years.

“Fortunately, it does not appear at this time that we had any sort of widespread damage that we have seen in some of the past flooding events, most notably Hurricane Ida back in 2021,” Stieritz said.

There were four water rescues in the county last night, all involving people trapped in vehicles. No one was injured, and firefighters guided people to safety.

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“We’re appreciative of the fact that whenever we have a quote-unquote smaller number of water rescues that it seems like people are getting the message — if they see a flooded roadway, don’t drive through it,” Stieritz said. “Now with that said, we would prefer the storm to have zero water rescues, but our trained first responders are always out there ready to go, ready to help anyone who does need assistance.”

While many of Montgomery County’s creeks and streams have already crested, as of Wednesday afternoon, the Schuylkill River in Pottstown is still slowly rising, Stieritz said.

“We do expect minor flooding to continue on the Schuylkill River in Pottstown for several hours, but after that for it to drop back below flood stage, hopefully, at some point in the overnight hour tonight,” he said.

Bucks County is asking affected residents to report damage

Bucks County, where a flood killed seven people back in July, was left largely unscathed this time around.

Although more than 2,500 PECO customers in the county are still without power as of Wednesday morning, the biggest complications so far have mostly been limited to road closures.

“We had a call this morning with the municipalities throughout the county and they were not reporting — at that time, it was about 9 a.m. — any major damage, either property or structural, but those assessments are going to be ongoing throughout the day,” said Jim O’Malley, a Bucks County spokesperson.

O’Malley said the county is aware of at least six water rescues involving stranded vehicles.  No major injuries were reported.

At the peak of the storm’s impact, Bucks County reported more than 100 road closures. O’Malley said.  A vast majority of the roads have reopened as downed trees and powerlines have been cleared.

Crews are waiting for floodwaters to clear to address the remaining downed trees and powerlines.

“I wouldn’t want to downplay anything preemptively but definitely the storm didn’t waste any time moving through. We were happy to see that last night as we’re watching the weather radar in the [Emergency Operations Center] that it was it cruising right through,” O’Malley said.

Chester County warns of continuously rising creeks through Wednesday afternoon

According to the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, there were 8 water rescues , approximately 17 calls for trees into houses, and approximately 130 calls for downed power lines or wires.

“The Chester County Department of Emergency Services continues to monitor and assist municipal responses to the storm that impacted our area,” a spokesperson for the department said.

First responders in Chester County answered 20 calls involving flooded basements. The county received more than 1,000 services calls during the storm and roughly 500 traffic complaints through this morning.

The county Department of Emergency Services is urging residents to report power outages to their respective providers and to be vigilant of flooded roadways.

With the county expecting several creeks and streams to continue to rise Wednesday afternoon, officials are asking people to exercise caution.

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