Severe weather spurs flooding, disrupts rail service in Pa., N.J.

Updated: 6:20 p.m. EST

Severe storms containing heavy rains and strong winds have spurred flooding in the suburbs of Philadelphia, disrupting travel and damaging some property.

The storms started Wednesday night and continued for several hours through early Thursday. It was the latest round of severe weather in the region in recent days, and officials say the combined storms have left the ground saturated with more rain in the forecast.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties around 2 p.m. Thursday, deploying state personnel and equipment to help towns respond to the damage and prepare for potential flash floods later in the day.

The flooding forced the closures of several roads and temporarily suspended PATCO service in New Jersey, as officials said several stations were flooded.

PATCO resumed service at noon Thursday and has reopened all stations, including Ashland as of 5 p.m. The transit system said it would resume its normal weekday schedule at 6 p.m.

In Pennsylvania, the storms caused the roof of an Acme supermarket in Flourtown, Montgomery County to collapse. Employees who were inside the store said the collapse caused pipes in the sprinkler system to break, sending water throughout the business. But all the workers got out safely.

In Westville, New Jersey, crews were cleaning up Thursday from flooding along Broadway that damaged several homes and flooded dozens of cars. The small town is just off the Delsea Drive near the Deptford Mall and abuts Big Timber Creek.

Edward Torres said when he woke up, he found a trash dumpster floating by.

A dumpster floats in the middle of Broadway in Westville, N.J., where heavy rains swamped cars, homes and streets overnight. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“It was a disaster,” he said. “I came out to smoke a cigarette at 7 o’clock. I saw all this action, a trash can in the street, the post office is — everything is messed up, everything is a disaster.”

Homeowners were waiting for insurance adjusters and business owners were hoping to clean up and reopen their doors as soon as possible.

Brandon Myers said the flooding was a rude awakening.

“We woke up at 4 a.m. and the only thing we could see is the sunroof on our car and we had about two feet of water in our living room,” Myers said. “Everything was destroyed. The electric was still working, but we shut it off because it started smelling like the metal burning taste.”

Pam Gordy, who owns a brew pub up the hill, said the flooding was so bad, her rain gutters backed up and the roof leaked.

“This is our weekend for our one-year anniversary and those plans are in limbo because we aren’t sure what is going on,” she said.

Residents are worried that more rain could prevent the flood waters from receding. A flash flood watch remains in effect for the region, with an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain possible “in a short time” this afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Murphy’s emergency declaration allows municipalities to apply for reimbursement from the federal government for costs they incur responding to the storms.

WHYY’s Nicholas Pugliese and Tom MacDonald contributed reporting.

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