Philadelphia opens 2 shelters, SEPTA flooding concerns

PHILADELPHIA - September 30, 2010

The flood prone areas include Manayunk, Eastwick in Southwest Philadelphia, Kelly Drive, Lincoln Drive, and Delaware Avenue.

Two emergency shelters have been set up in Roxborough High School and Bartram High School.

Shuttle transportation to the facilities will be available at the Ivy Ridge Train Station and the recreation Center at 77th and Elmwood. People can bring pets and the SPCA will provide shelter for them.

People can receive text alerts concerning these plans through www.phila.gov/ready.

311 call center hours are being extended to midnight tonight and 8:00 a.m. to midnight Friday.

SEPTA expects interruptions on the Norristown, West Trenton, Warminster and Chestnut Hill regional rail lines.

SEPTA says the Norristown high speed line could also be impacted.

According to officials, the following bus routes are in flood prone areas and may be affected: 1,9,27,35,38,61,62,65,124,125, R, K.

Some SEPTA stations have parking lots in flood prone areas and they include Bethayres, Jenkintown, Crestmont, Spring Mill, and Conshohocken.

For the latest on SEPTA, click here.

Heavy rain causes flooding, strands drivers in Pa.

Heavy rain and high winds swept across Pennsylvania on Thursday, stranding drivers, flooding roadways and closing schools as emergency management officials braced for more downpours and possible evacuations.

Gov. Ed Rendell ordered the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to open its emergency operations center late Thursday afternoon so state agencies could assist communities and residents dealing with heavy rainfall statewide.

The Pennsylvania National Guard was on standby for central and eastern Pennsylvania, expected to see the worst of the flooding, with a potential for evacuations and road closures in some areas, Rendell said.

"People who live along streams and creeks know the dangers of rapidly rising water," he said. "In light of the forecast, these residents ... should take immediate steps to prepare before the situation becomes an emergency."

The National Weather Service predicted that the Philadelphia area would receive four to six inches of rainfall overnight, potentially resulting in the Schuylkill River's second-worst flooding on record by Friday afternoon. In Philadelphia, the city extended the hours of its 3-1-1 call line and Mayor Michael Nutter announced the opening of two shelters in flood-prone neighborhoods that could take up two 300 people each if needed.

A downed tree forced the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Transportation Authority to suspend service on one of its regional rail lines Thursday night. The agency warned commuters of what could be extensive delays during the Friday morning commute. Philadelphia International Airport was reporting weather-related delays of up to two hours.

In central Pennsylvania, many Lancaster County schools and government buildings closed early Thursday due to the heavy rains.

Much of eastern Pennsylvania was under flood warnings as storms could bring as much as six inches of rain before leaving the area on Friday. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch Thursday for counties stretching from Philadelphia west to York and north to Allentown.

A flash flood warning was in effect for parts of central Pennsylvania, including Lancaster and Lebanon counties, through Thursday night.

Torrential downpours in Lancaster County stranded motorists in rising waters, poured into homes and businesses and flooded roadways Thursday afternoon. County commissioners declared a state of emergency and emergency crews rescued dozens of people, some standing on the roofs of their cars as water rose around them. No injuries were reported.

In Schuylkill County, the borough of Pine Grove declared a state of emergency and some citizens were being evacuated Thursday, said Janet Curtis of the American Red Cross in Pottsville.

The weather service predicted the Susquehanna River would rise above flood stage by Saturday morning in Wilkes-Barre, leading to minor flooding there.

If the rain continues as forecasts predict, the Schuylkill River in Reading will crest Friday evening at 21½ feet, well above the flood stage of 13 feet, said Brian Gottschall of the Berks County Department of Emergency Services.

That would be the third-highest level on record, trailing only Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 and the storm of 2006, Gottschall said. Both caused heavy damage in the area, he said.

The Delaware and Lehigh rivers in the Lehigh Valley area also were expected to spill over their banks Friday, with minor flooding predicted.

Flood watches were also in effect through Thursday evening in western Pennsylvania.

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