Flood warnings after Delaware River turns to ice in Trenton

TRENTON - January 9, 2014


Flood warnings have been issued for Mercer and Bucks counties around the river until 1:00 p.m. Thursday. A flood watch has been extended for the same areas and for Philadelphia until 10:00 p.m.

Route 29 in Trenton has been closed in several spots due to flooding. That includes the exits onto Market Street and Memorial Drive. State, county and city emergency management personnel are monitoring the river hour by hour.

The below-freezing temperatures we've had these last couple of days have caused ice jams to form dams in the Delaware River. Those big chunks of ice are blocking the flow of the water that's still running, that water has nowhere to go but over the banks.

State workers were being asked Thursday to park at the Sun Center after the Capitol complex garage flooded on Wednesday. Then flood waters froze, making nearby streets impassable.

In addition, residents in the city's low-lying, flood-prone area, including the Island neighborhood, have been warned they might have to make quick evacuations, though at least some residents say they're not too worried.

The preparations come after floodwaters came over Route 29 right at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, snarling traffic and causing detours.

"It's really scary because it can happen within minutes and it's dark," Hope Barnes of Mt. Laurel said.

An Action News crew was actually standing near what appeared to be a safe distance from the swollen Delaware River near the Capitol Complex when those floodwaters rushed over the southbound lanes.

The crew moved quickly, but other people took a risk driving through water that quickly iced over forcing emergency workers to shut down Route 29 between Calhoun and Warren streets.

The floodwater overtook a ramp to the capital and froze over in minutes.

At the Capitol Complex garage, more pumps were brought in to remove water.

In the city's Island section, Trenton police set up just in case emergency management called for mandatory evacuations.

Action News was on scene as Qareeb Bashir, Trenton's Director of Fire and Emergency, checked on the river, which has risen more than 7 feet.

He said chunks of ice are creating dams causing levels to spike in different sections.

"I've been around quite a few number of years, I've seen quite a few number of floods, but this the first time I've seen this unique situation," Bashir said.

The same goes for Trenton resident Susan Dasch who lives along the river.

"I'm not too concerned about the river coming over the bank, but that might be shortsighted of me," Dasch said.

The Pennsylvania side of the river is also experiencing some flooding issues.

In Lower Makefield Township, parts of route 32 along the river were closed. Firefighters are monitoring the waters every hour.

As for Route 29, the city says detours will be in place so drivers should avoid the area or pack their patience.