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Mayor Nutter: 7th Worst Rainstorm in Philly's History

Flooding on the Schuylkill River more severe than Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Flooding along the Schuylkill River reached levels higher than two previous hurricanes leaving major thoroughfares and neighborhoods washed out.

    "The Schuylkill River crested at 13.91 feet. That is actually higher than the Schuylkill was during Hurricane Irene and higher than Superstorm Sandy," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a press briefing on Thursday. A Flood Warning remains in effect until the river drops below flood stage on Thursday night.

    The city broke a rainfall record on Wednesday after 4.81 inches of rain was recorded at Philadelphia International Airport, the National Weather Service said. The previous record for April 30 of 3.29 inches of rainfall was set back in 1947.

    Up at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, nearly 5 inches of rainfall was recorded.

    Nutter said this large rainstorm was the seventh worst in Philadelphia's history.

    Lincoln Drive, which weaves beside the Wissahickon Creek, and Kelly and Martin Luther King Drives, which straddle the Schuylkill River were washed out for most of the day Thursday.

    MLK Drive reopened around 3:30 p.m., Lincoln Drive around 4 p.m. and portions of Kelly Drive were reopended as well as the waters receded and Streets Department crews were able to clean up debris.

    "We did have a pretty significant flooding event and we still have a lot of water in the Main Street Manayunk area," said Sam Phillips, Philadelphia's Emergency Management Director.

    Manayunk, which is prone to flooding, is where residents of the Venice Lofts had to be rescued by boat Thursday morning. On Wednesday night, four people had to be rescued from the top of a SEPTA bus trapped in rising waters along Flat Rock Road. That bus remained almost fully submerged most of the day Thursday.

    The Philadelphia Fire Department responded to 59 service calls between midnight and 5 a.m. on Thursday and the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit was called out 15 times to rescue stranded drivers and homeless people living along the Schuylkill's banks, officials said.

    Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan said officers responded to 3,000 calls over the past 24 hours -- the majority of which were related to the storm.

    Heavy water also flooded out a steam line that runs under 16th Street near Cherry Street, knocking out power to traffic lights along John F. Kennedy Boulevard and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

    Nutter said generators have been deployed to those intersections to get the lights working. However, 16th Street remains closed between the Parkway and Market Street as crews work to repair the issue.

    Sullivan said the police department will be fanning out across Center City to assist with expediting the evening rush as well as providing detours in neighborhoods that have flooding.

    Residents whose homes were damaged by flood waters are being asked to contact 311.

    Phillips said officials are tallying damage estimates and are investigating whether they will be able to declare a disaster emergency. Doing so, would free up funding for those affected.

    Officials have also asked residents who live near abandoned homes to keep an vigilant eye on the properties as they could have been weakened by the heavy rain and be prone to collapse.