Drowning reported, as flood's misery toll mounts

East Coast Storm
Firefighters spray away the mud in the aftermath of a flood in Darby on Friday. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)

A woman drowned in Collegeville this morning after two days of heavy rain triggered widespread flooding that still poses a threat, prompting evacuations as rivers continue to rise.

The female driver was fatally trapped in her car by floodwaters about 6 a.m. on Stump Hall Road near Kratz Road in Montgomery County, according to state police.

From rescues in Darby to midday evacuations in low-lying parts of Manayunk and Roxborough, emergency and public-safety workers have had their hands full since the middle of the night.

In West Norriton, Montgomery County, 200 residents of the Jefferson Apartments were evacuated at 2:30 a.m. when the basement filled with six feet of water, knocking out the electricity. The evacuees were taken to a temporary shelter at Norristown Area High School.

And at 3:30 a.m. in Chester, police were knocking on doors to warn people along Chester Creek to move their cars and get ready to leave their homes.

By 7 a.m., dozens of roads, including Kelly and Martin Luther King Drive in Philadelphia, were reported closed by traffic.com.

Some schools closed or opened late. About 10,000 people in Southeastern Pennsylvania were without power this morning, mostly in Chester and Delaware Counties.

TV footage showed rushing water on streets in Chadds Ford, which reportedly got 9 inches of in the last two days.

Then concerns dramatically shifted to Darby, where waters rose to the windowsills of homes near the corner of Springfield Road and McDade Boulevard, and fire fighters stretched long ladders horizontally to rescue residents who stayed behind. Visitors were asked to stay out of town.

About 100 rescues were made in Delaware County, said Ed Truitt, the county's emergency management coordinator.

In Philadelphia, the Schuylkill, which began overflowing about 5 a.m., was expected to keep rising till midafternoon and not fall below flood level until after midnight, according to the National Weather Service. Resident of the Venice Islands apartments in Manayunk were evacuated as were other homes and businesses along the river.

In Chester County, emergency officials said areas closest to the Brandywine Creek and the Schuylkill were hardest hit, but most of the problems were relatively minor: flooded basements, power outages and fallen trees. No injuries were reported, they said.

About two dozen area schools announced delays or closings this morning. Most were suburban private or parochial schools opening late, but Kennett Consolidated School District in Kennett Square and Perkioman Valley School District in Collegeville were closed. Haverford Township schools were open, but with no transportation, because flooding trapped the buses.

The amount of rainfall could be historic - amounts seen only a handful of times in a century and a third of recordkeeping. Since early yesterday, a half-foot or more rain has fallen in many areas. Preliminary numbers show a two-day total of 9 inches in Chadds Ford, about 8 inches in Collegeville, 7.5 in Valley Forge, and 5.29 at Philadelphia International Airport.

The city's two-day record of 8.37 inches was set on Sept. 22 and 23 in 1882. For Oct. 1 alone, the city's record was just 1.79 inches, set in 1902.

Remarkably, the perpetually ponding Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden was NOT closed - but all of the following roadways were, at various times this morning, according to traffic.com. And this list is only partial:

Martin Luther King Drive, Philadelphia, in both directions between Montgomery Drive and Strawberry Mansion Bridge. Use I-76 as an alternate.

Kelly Drive, Philadelphia, both directions between Hunting Park Avenue and Midvale Ave. Alternate: I-76.

Route 202, south of West Chester, both directions at East Street Road (Route 926) south of West Chester. Alternate: Concord Road.

In Lower Providence Township, many roads were closed, including River Road, Park Avenue (between Appledale and Jode), Pawlings Road (between Gertrude and Ferry), Cross Keys (all lanes blocked at Germantown Pike), Egypt Road (all lanes at Crawford).

Upper Moreland had flooding at Pioneer and Byberry; at Easton (Route 611) and Maryland; at York and Mill; at Davisville and Terwood; and at Blair Mill and County Line.

In Upper Merion, closings included Gulph Road (from First to Richards, and Swedeland to Matsonford), Route 23 (from Gulph to Valley Park), Swedeland Road (from Trinity to Flint Hill), and at Gulph and Warner.

In Chester Heights, all lanes of Route 1 were blocked at Wawa Road. Municipality: DARBY

Springfield Rd and Macdade Blvd. - flooding blocking all lanes

In Philadelphia's Kingsessing section, Cobbs Creek Parkway was closed between Springfield Avenue and 67th Street.

In West Deptford, all lanes of Route 44 were flooded at Paradise Road.

In Mount Laurel, Union Mill Road was flooded between Hartford and Briggs.

Willingboro has flooding at Levitt Parkway and Millbrook Drive.

In Mantua, Route 45, all lanes blocked at Berkley Road.

In East Norriton, North Wales Road, all lanes blocked at Baldwin Avenue.

In Towamencin, Kriebel Road closed from Bustard to Old Forty Foot.

In Haddon Heights/Mount Ephraim, Route 295 ramp flooded.

In Moorestown, flooding at Lenola and New Albany Roads.

In Westtown Township, Route 926, from Concord Road to Route 202.

One lane of Route 295 is blocked in each direction at Route 541 in Westampton Township, where 541 is also flooded from Woodlane to Mount Holly Bypass.

In Lower Merion, River Road between Hollow Road and Waverly Road.

In Upper Uwchland Township, Route 100 closed from Township Line to Pennsylvania Drive.

In Upper Hanover Township, Water Street is closed at Route 29.

In Upper Makefield, Brownburg Road is closed from Stoneybrook to River Road.

In Whitpain Township, Stenton Ave closed between Penllyn Blue Bell Pike and Walton Road.

For the latest trouble spots, check out the map at http://go.philly.com/traffic, or click on "incidents" to see a list.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.