Flooding strands New Jersey drivers and homeowners; PATCO resumes service

BELLMAWR, N.J. (WPVI) -- Heavy downpours caused drivers to become stranded on highways, people and pets to be rescued from their homes, mass transit service to be shut down, and roofs to collapse throughout the Delaware and Lehigh valleys Thursday morning.

Burlington County, New Jersey has announced a Declaration of Emergency due to the severe flooding. Officials are requesting Governor Phil Murphy to declare a state of emergency.

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The water was waist deep in some parts of Westville, New Jersey.

"I got the alerts so I figured I'd move my car. Went back to bed. Woke up 2 a.m. to this bad squealing sound which was my central air under water," Westville resident Keith Murray said.

His basement was already filled with water, as were many others.

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Flood rescues in Westville, New Jersey. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on June 20, 2019.

Evacuees and their four-legged loved ones found shelter and snacks at the Red Cross shelter.

"They were rushed out of their homes due to the evacuation because of the flood. So we're providing them a safe place to stay here at the municipal building," Laura Steinmetz of the American Red Cross said.

In Bellmawr, I-295 was closed in both directions for hours.

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Flooding creates traffic nightmare on I-295. Katherine Scott reports during Action News at Noon on June 20, 2019.

Floodwaters stretched across the northbound and southbound lanes. Traffic was at a standstill. Some cars were stuck and stalled from floodwaters.

Alexis Huaca of Gloucester City hit flooding on a ramp and pulled over. She came to get a view of the highway from the nearby overpass.

"My car is up here actually. I got it off the ramp, but it was smoking and everything so just letting it sit for a little bit," Huaca explained.

Thomas Williams of Burlington didn't see the floodwaters until it was too late.

"Water is real high. I tried to stop and reverse to go back up to try to avoid being stuck, and it was too late," Williams recounted.

For hours, cars went nowhere. Some drivers got out and walked around, waiting for water to recede.

Edward Echevarria of Atlantic City told Action News he didn't see the floodwaters until he was in them around 1:45 a.m. He was terrified.

"I thought I was going to die for a second. My car shut down. I couldn't even get out of the car. The locks wouldn't work or nothing. Smoke started coming out through the vents. I'm thinking the worst," Echevarria described.

All lanes of 295 in Bellmawr were opened shortly after 6:45 a.m.

Elsewhere on 295 in National Park, police were helping to move cars from high water. The visibility was low during the pounding rain.

Brian Nederostek of Linwood said he was going around 15 mph when he ran into high water.

"The flood went over the hood and over the sidewalls and completely stalled my engine out, and now my car is stuck in a giant puddle of water," Nederostek said.

In Brooklawn, Route 130 was underwater near Verchio's Produce. One driver was waiting for her car to dry out after good Samaritans pushed her to the parking lot of Brooklawn Diner.

"I got stuck. It was all flooded. Once I got to the bridge my car completely cut off underneath the bridge and I was stuck there for 30 minutes," she explained.

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Flooding in New Jersey strands drivers. Katherine Scott reports during Action News Mornings on June 20, 2019.

In Vincentown, Burlington County, homes on the Lenape Trail near the Rancocas Creek had to be evacuated.

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Water rescues along flooded Rancocas Creek. Watch the report from Action News Mornings on June 20, 2019.

In Woodbury, Gloucester County, high water covered the 400 block of Mantua Pike.

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Flooded roads in Woodbury, New Jersey. Watch the report during Action News Mornings on June 20, 2019.

Drivers still made their way around, plowing through the flooded roadway, which is not recommended.

PATCO suspended a majority of its service for the entire morning due to storm damage at several New Jersey stations and track areas.

It will resume service at noon with a special schedule. Trains will run every 28 minutes making stops at all stations except Ashland which remains closed until further notice.

NJ Transit, meanwhile, suspended the River Line in both directions between the Walter Rand Transportation Center and the Waterfront Entertainment Complex due to flooding. It was restored just after 8 a.m.

In Philadelphia, the Action News van was covering the heavy rain, when it came upon a flooded I-76 in Grays Ferry. Action News reporter Katherine Scott captured water splashing the windshield of the van.

In Montgomery County, the heavy rain caused a roof to collapse.

Fire crews were surveying the damage to the Acme Market on the 1600 block of Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown.

Employees who were inside said the force of the collapse broke the pipes of the sprinkler system causing water to go everywhere.

The workers were able to get out safely.

There is no word when the Acme will reopen.

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Roof collapse at Flourtown Acme. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on June 20, 2019.

Cars were taking in water in Wyomissing, Berks County.

The fire department responded to the parking lot of a Wawa on Route 222.

They were assisting drivers who needed help.

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Flooding at Berks County Wawa parking lot. Watch the report from Action News Mornings on June 20, 2019.

A Flash Food Watch remains in effect for the entire region through late Thursday night.
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