Heavy rains sent rivers and streams over their banks, flooding low-lying areas in Philadelphia and surrounding counties and forcing the evacuation of several apartment complexes and many rescues, including three people helped off the roof of a bus trapped in floodwaters.
During a nine-hour period that ended early Thursday, Chester County got 6.6 inches of rain, Delaware and Montgomery counties got 5-1/2 inches or more and Philadelphia almost 5 inches, the National Weather Service reported. Emergency officials said flooding was reported along the Schuylkill and Brandywine rivers as well as smaller streams and creeks leading to trapped cars and flooded basements.
Bill Turner, watch officer at Chester County Emergency Management Service, said more than 62 people were rescued overnight from their vehicles, most after driving past closed road signs and barriers.
"Unfortunately, people were not paying attention to road closures signs and barriers and driving around them, and we had to go in and rescue them," Turner said.
Three people trapped in their homes by flooding also were rescued, and about 100 roads were closed by dawn, Turner said. No serious injuries were reported.
In Montgomery County, authorities evacuated two apartment buildings overnight and were helping residents trapped by floodwaters in another building Thursday morning. Emergency officials reported many local roads closed and a number of water rescues. A Bucks County apartment building also was evacuated.
The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania reported 86 people in shelters in Montgomery and Chester counties early Thursday.
A bus driver and two other people were rescued from a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bus that became stuck in several feet of water in the city's Manayunk section late Wednesday night, officials said.
"They moved to the roof of the bus after they got stranded, and that's where they were rescued by Philadelphia fire rescue," SEPTA spokeswoman Heather Redfern said.
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The SEPTA train line from Manayunk to Norristown was suspended but service had been partially restored Thursday morning, she said.
Philadelphia Police urged residents to stay indoors overnight and told anyone on the roads to use caution. They urged parents keep children away from creeks and streams that are subject to flash flooding.