Hurricane Irene live coverage: Power outages could last days

(Sunday, 11:00 a.m.)

Mayor Michael Nutter announced that Philadelphia’s state of emergency, the first filed for the city since 1986, will be lifted at noon today.

Still, he asks that residents stay indoors if possible so that damage can be assessed and debris cleaned up.

Though the storm has passed, dangers continue.

A PECO spokesman estimated that nearly 300,000 customers are still without power.

The National Weather Service has issue a flash flood warning until later this afternoon as river and creek waters continue to rise, leading to road closures. Lincoln Drive is closed in both directions.

The Schuylkill River in East Falls overflowed, leaving much of Kelly Drive underwater and reaching up to Ridge and Midvale avenues. Nutter said the river’s flooding, expect to crest at 2 p.m. this afternoon, could reach a century-old record. Kelly and West River drives are closed, as is Ridge Avenue between Manayunk and City Line Avenue.

The Schuylkill also overflowed onto Chestnut Street near the Chestnut Street bridge. The Delaware River engulfed the intersection of Spring Garden Street and Delaware Avenue.

Cobbs Creek flooded last night, closing the Cobbs Creek Parkway. The Spring Garden Street tunnel was underwater, as was the intersection of 34th Street and Girard Avenue.

Manayunk’s Main Street also flooded. In fact, police arrested two men who rode a raft down the waterlogged street this morning. No charges are expected to be filed.

Heavy winds can still be felt in our region, but Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it hits New York.

— Alex Wigglesworth

(8:50 p.m.)

The first state of emergency (for weather purposes, we conclude, considering Mayor Michael Nutter’s “state of emergency” against violence his first day in office) in Philadelphia in 50 years was declared this evening as rain battered the worried city and region and fierce, deadly wind is supposedly on the way tonight. We’ll see, but we at Metro Philadelphia have been wary of 70 mile per hour wind since Thursday.

“”Due to the severity of this storm, people should expect power outages of a week, 10 days or even two weeks,” Nutter said, according to reports.

Here’s what we know:

– The hurricane is moving slowly, about 13 miles per hour. Not good for rain totals (i.e. lots of flooding).

– Mayor Nutter has warned that power outages in the region could last days, when combined with the deep water flooding waterways already sopped from the wettest August – perhaps overall months – in history.

– Evacuation shelters have already openede across western New Jersey for thousands who were forced by local and state authorities to flee the coast.

– Rain started, hard, early this afternoon.

– The hurricane seems to have struck a hard bargain against the coasts of Virginia and earlier, North Carolina, slowing and also weakening. But the flooding may replace the wind damage as the biggest trouble facing New Jersey and Philadelphia tonight into tomorrow morning and early afternoon.

— Brian X. McCrone

(11:30 a.m.)

Metro photographer Rikard Larma has begun taking pre-storm photos from around the region. His first, from a suburban Acme Supermarket, shows there are many of empty shelves after people’s preparations.

— Brian X. McCrone

(10:40 a.m.)

Here’s the link for all SEPTA service alerts throughout Saturday until the transit system shuts down entirely 12:30 a.m. and at the bottom of this post is the video of Mayor Nutter’s most recent press conference. Another briefing by Nutter may take place this afternoon.

— Brian X. McCrone

(9:46 a.m.)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has declared a state of emergency,
mobilizing the Pennsylvania National Guard for disaster preparations and
rescue missions and urging residents to prepare now for the coming

Philadelphia will open its Emergency Operations Center today
at 6 p.m. to coordinate a disaster response across various city
agencies. Meteorologists at the National Weather Center say Irene will
most likely be a Category 1 hurricane when it hits Philadelphia.

While the city is not ordering mandatory evacuations, the Red Cross is
opening shelters today at 8 p.m. at Bartram High School, Lincoln High
School and Roxborough High School, as well as additional shelters in
Delaware, Chester
and Montgomery Counties. A full list is available here.

The two main concerns are flooding and power outages due to high winds.
Because of the unusually large amount of rainfall this month, the ground
is already wet. Meteorologists say that trees and power lines will come
down more easily than normal.

Those living in flood-prone areas are urged to make plans to stay with friends or relatives before the storm hits.

These include Cobbs Creek and other marshlands in Southwest
Philadelphia; areas near creeks and streams including the Pennypack,
Poquessing, Tacony, Frankford and Wissahickon Creeks; Main Street,
Manayunk; portions of the Naval Base; areas near the Delaware River,
especially along Delaware Avenue and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge; Northeast Philadelphia where Linden Avenue meets the Delaware and Kelly and Lincoln Drives.

Rain could start as early as tonight and is expect to last through
Sunday, totaling six to nine inches. Flooding is expected to begin
tonight as well.

Heavy winds could affect the city tonight into Sunday, with the strongest gusts coming Sunday afternoon.

For more on the city’s storm preparations, visit or contact the city’s 311 call center, which will be open 24 hours through Monday.

–Alex Wigglesworth

(9:05 a.m.)

The rain should arrive in the Philadelphia region within a couple hours as the northernmost tentacles of 250-mile wide Hurricane Irene currently sitting over North Carolina’s coast stretches out. One CNN reporter just described the now category 1 storm as “sloppy.”

The New Jersey coast is still in the direct path of the storm, but the city of Philadelphia and other inland populated areas like Trenton appear more likely just inundated with rain and wind in the 40-50 mile per hour range, according to the newest projections.

SEPTA, meanwhile, will shut down transit operations at 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, about two hours before what earlier projections pointed as the true arrival of the fiercest wind and rain to Philadelphia. The Phillies have cancelled games both today and tomorrow, postponed til next month.

–Brian X. McCrone

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