PHILADELPHIA - The Vine Street Expressway has fully reopened days after the intense rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused the Schuylkill River to overflow into Philadelphia and flood the heavily trafficked highway.
Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the river swelled to a little more than 16 feet when it leaked into Philadelphia and submerged parts of the city on Thursday. Emergency crews rescued hundreds of people from flooded homes and urged trapped residents to shelter in place until the water receded.
LOCAL IDA STORM COVERAGE
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- ‘Truly unprecedented’: Crews rescue hundreds from historic flooding in Philadelphia, Montgomery counties
Interstate 676, known locally as the Vine Street Expressway, quickly filled with water that at one point rose nearly as high as overpasses along the highway. Videos of people kayaking and tubing down the transient waterway quickly filled social media; one man was even spotted backflipping off an overpass into the water.
As Thursday continued, crews were hopeful that the Schuylkill would crest during the morning and help pull back some of the stagnant water on the highway. The flood began to recede throughout Thursday and into Friday.
To help expedite the process, crews used pumps to carry thousands of gallons of water back to the Schuylkill River and cleaned up sludge left behind.
PennDot first reopened the eastbound lanes of the Vine Street Expressway on Saturday then allowed a full reopening hours later. Officials say the right on the eastbound side will remain closed from 18th Street to around 22nd Street for pump station repair.
Ramps connecting I-676 westbound to 22nd Street will stay closed through Sunday for the Made In America music festival. The 24th Street ramp will also be closed for several days for repairs.