‘Truly unprecedented’: Crews rescue hundreds from historic flooding in Philadelphia, Montgomery counties

Hundreds of people needed to be rescued from their homes after the Schuylkill River leaked into Philadelphia on Thursday flooding parts of the city in feet of water. 

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Theil called the flooding "truly unprecedented" in a phone interview with FOX 29's Good Day Philadelphia. The water level swelled to just over 16 feet on Thursday, which rivaled the century-old record of 17.2 feet set in 1869.


The flooding came after leftover storms from a system that once formed Hurricane Ida slammed into the Delaware Valley on Wednesday afternoon and evening, bringing heavy downpours, severe thunderstorms and at least seven tornadoes to the region.

Rainfall totals in the Philadelphia area amounted to around 10 inches, which helped the Schuylkill River swell beyond its bounds by Thursday morning. The National Weather Service warned the river could ‘Major Flood Stage' by rising to record highs. 

Floodwaters washed into parts of Philadelphia including Center City and Manayunk, leaving hundreds of residents trapped inside their homes. Commissioner Thiel and the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management urged residents to shelter-in-place until rescue crew crews could reach stranded tenents. 

On Friday morning, Thiel said emergency crews responded to over 1,000 incidents, including hundreds of water rescues, since the flooding first encroached upon the city. He urged caution to residents who are still surrounded by retreating floodwaters, adding that the area near the Schuylkill River is "still a mess."


The Schuylkill River also bubbled over in parts of Montgomery County, including Conshohocken where floodwaters rose to an estimated ten feet and submerged streets and surrounding buildings. 

FOX 29's Jenn Fred was atop the Fayette Street Bridge on Thursday morning to survey the damage, which included a washed-out construction site and an almost fully immersed parking garage. Frederick said at one point she saw a SEPTA bus or train car being swept away by the fast-moving surge. 

In nearby Bridgeport, SkyFOX flew over ongoing water rescues to help save people who were trapped inside flooded homes. In one rescue, emergency crews lead evacuees stranded on the second floor down a ladder and into a dinghy. 

Bridgeport and many neighboring communities along the Schuylkill River like Norristown were almost completely flooded the morning after leftovers from Ida rocked the region.

Officials in Montgomery County are investigating three suspected storm-related deaths. FOX 29’s Jeff Cole reports one of the fatalities occurred in an Upper Dublin neighborhood where dozens of trees had been knocked down during the storm. 

Neighbors say one of those trees fell through the roof of a home, fatally striking a woman on the second floor of her home. According to neighbors, the woman’s husband was attempting to reach her to bring her downstairs when the tree came down. 



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