Philadelphia region continues to recover from Ida aftermath

Bystanders watch the flooded Schuylkill River banks, which raised to record heights, during Ida's aftermath in Philadelphia.
REUTERS/Bastiaan Slabbers

The remnants of Hurricane Ida brought extreme flooding to the Philadelphia region, particularly around the Schuylkill River, Wednesday night into Thursday.

Photographs and video circulating Thursday morning showed the river’s waters overflowing into nearby streets in Manayunk and other neighborhoods. The Vine Street Expressway was completely submerged, looking more like a canal.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, who also oversees the city’s emergency management operations, said the Schuylkill rose to levels not seen in 100 years and may have reached an all-time high.

Officials said they were not aware of any Ida-related fatalities in Philadelphia; however, Thiel estimated that emergency workers have had to rescue more than 100 people.

Amir Farnam

Authorities in Montgomery County are investigating at least three deaths that may have been caused by the storm.

County Board of Commissioners Chair Valerie Arkoosh said two of the fatalities were a result of drowning, and the other was related to structural damage.

Arkoosh said the average county-wide rainfall total was 8.25 inches. Crews made more than 450 water rescues and responded to about 6,500 911 calls in less than 24 hours.

The School District of Philadelphia, which welcomed back students for the new year Tuesday, opened some schools on-time but decided to implement a two-hour delay for schools with 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. start times on Thursday.

James Dobson Elementary and Albert M. Greenfield schools were closed Thursday due to power outages.

All district schools will go digital on Friday, conducting all classes virtually. School building will be closed and there will be no in person-learning. In addition, all after school activities have been cancelled.

“The impact of the storm to our entire city is a continuously evolving situation. We will remain in close contact with all key City of Philadelphia agencies, and will provide further information and updates as needed as we continue to monitor the effects of the storm,” the district’s Office of Communications said in a statement.

SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line is shut down between Gulph Mills and Norristown after a sinkhole opened up along the tracks, said Scott Sauer, the authority’s assistant general manager for operations. The closure will likely remain in effect through at least Monday, he added.

In addition, the Manayunk/Norristown Line was also severely impacted by Ida and was suspended Thursday.

The Made in America music festival, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is expected to go on as planned, officials said.

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