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Flash flooding prompts state of emergency in upstate New York and causes travel delays, water rescues in New Jersey

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
June 21, 2019, 1:21:20 AM EDT

Slow-moving thunderstorms spawned a significant flooding event across southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

The flooding turned the early morning commute into chaos, as many roads were closed and rail service was interrupted. One of the main road closures was Interstate 295 in Bellmawr, New Jersey, where numerous motorists became stranded on northbound and southbound lanes due to the rising floodwaters.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties on Thursday in response to the extreme flooding.

(AP/Matt Rourke)

People inspect the floodwaters submerging Broadway in Westville, N.J. Thursday, June 20, 2019.

(AP/Matt Rourke)

A utility worker walks the edge of the floodwaters submerging Broadway in Westville, N.J. Thursday, June 20, 2019.

<i>Major flooding in Oswego, New York, on Thursday afternoon. (Photo/@SteigerScott)</i>

(AP/Matt Rourke)

Floodwaters partially submerge vehicles on Broadway in Westville, N.J. Thursday, June 20, 2019.

(AP/Matt Rourke)

Officials and residents gather on the edge of the floodwaters submerging Broadway in Westville, N.J. Thursday, June 20, 2019.

(Photo/Oswego Fire Department)

A vehicle nearly submerged in flood waters in Oswego, New York, on Thursday.


Flooding caused damage to several PATCO train stations in New Jersey on Thursday June 20, 2019.


Floodwaters crept into a PATCO train station, forcing a cancellation in service for several routes on Thursday, June 20, 2019.


Damage to a PATCO track from flooding on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

(Photo/Springfield Township Police)

Pennsylvania Avenue was shutdown between Camp Hill Road and Oreland Mill in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, on Thursday morning.

Brian Nederostek, a motorist who became stranded, told 6ABC that he was walking in deep floodwater when he got out of his vehicle.

"It went up to my calves when I walked out of my car and that was not even the deepest part closer to the median of the highway. I saw the one police officer walk through and it was up to his knees," Nederostek said.

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By 8 a.m. much of the floodwaters had receded and traffic has resumed on the highway. Motorists were told to expect some residual delays.

A PATCO train station in Voorhees, New Jersey, was one of several that suffered flood damage and was forced to suspend service. Customers were being told to seek alternate transportation as several routes were suspended.

Flooding caused damage to the track ballast, which is the stone that holds the train track in place, according to PATCO.

Repairs and inspections were underway, PATCO said on Twitter. By 1 p.m., service had mostly resumed with the exception of the flooded station in Voorhees.

Boats were being used to conduct water rescues in several New Jersey communities, including the town of Westville.

"A small but intense area of thunderstorms developed in northern Maryland and Delaware late Wednesday evening and moved into southeastern Pennsylvania around midnight," AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said. "The thunderstorms then stalled and continuously redeveloped in a corridor from around Reading to the south side of Philadelphia to southwestern New Jersey."

"In the course of just two to three hours, 3 to 5 inches of rain fell, causing widespread flooding. The heaviest of the rain was over by about 4 a.m., but flooding from runoff continues, making for a difficult morning commute. As mentioned, this area was small, as areas immediately surrounding the heaviest rain generally saw half an inch or less."

Philadelphia received over 4 inches of rain within a six-hour span. The city's normal rainfall for the entire month of June is 3.43 inches.

Pennypack Creek in the northeastern part of the city went above minor flood stage for a time Thursday. Near Mount Holly, New Jersey, the North Branch Rancocas Creek at Iron Works Park went above 14 feet, or major flood stage.

In Flourtown, Pennsylvania, heavy rain reportedly caused the roof of an Acme Markets grocery store to collapse, according to 6ABC. No injuries were reported.

Flash flooding was reported elsewhere across the Northeast on Thursday. In New York, flooding closed an exit ramp off Interstate 90 near Rochester and slowed traffic.

A state of emergency was declared in Oswego, New York, due to flooding. In nearby Fulton, 1.68 inches of rain fell from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Mayor Billy Barlow said on Twitter that he was putting a travel advisory in place that ask residents to avoid unnecessary travel. The advisory would also allow first responders time and space to get to areas of concern.

Pictures on social media showed a car submerged in Mount Morris, New York. According to Jennifer Lewke, a reporter for WHEC in Rochester, a neighbor with a rowboat came to the rescue of a woman who was in the trapped car. The driver was said to be OK after being rescued.

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