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Hurricane Ida remnants in Delaware: Record floods prompt home evacuations in Wilmington

DelawareOnline.com (Wilmington, DE) logo DelawareOnline.com (Wilmington, DE) 9/3/2021 Brandon Holveck and Yusra Asif, Delaware News Journal
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EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the chief of the Wilmington Fire Department. The chief, who was on scene Thursday, is John Looney. 

Although Delaware avoided the worst of the storms brought to the East Coast by Hurricane Ida's remnants, the northern part of the state experienced historic flooding Thursday.

The worst flooding occurred along the Brandywine. The city's Eastside, Riverside and 11th Street Bridge neighborhoods were among the most affected.

Gov. John Carney, along with the representatives from the Wilmington Fire Department, the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, arrived at the scene at Kirkwood Park near the Brandywine later in the day, where the water was still receding. 

a bridge over a body of water: The Brandywine River churns through Wilmington near the Market Street bridge, Thursday Sept. 2, 2021. © William Bretzger / Delaware News Journal The Brandywine River churns through Wilmington near the Market Street bridge, Thursday Sept. 2, 2021.

"A tremendous team effort," said Carney as he praised the teams, along with thanking the National Guard for assisting in rescue efforts. 

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Wilmington Fire Department Chief John Looney, center, speaks to the media about the flooding in Wilmington Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. © Jerry Habraken, Delaware News Journal Wilmington Fire Department Chief John Looney, center, speaks to the media about the flooding in Wilmington Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

The floodwaters lifted cars and buried bridges. Emergency responders rescued more than 200 people from their homes, wading through the flooded streets in rescue boats throughout the day. 

"We’ve had flooding throughout the years, never this bad," said Wilmington Fire Department Chief John Looney.

While the water is slowly receding, the governor cautioned that "we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us," referring to the people who were evacuated from their homes due to severe water damage and will be unable to return for a while. 

Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki and the chief of police also arrived at Northeast Boulevard in Wilmington in the afternoon, where they assessed the damage and interacted with DelDOT teams at the scene. 

At a maximum crest of 23.1 feet – measured near Rockford Park around 9:30 a.m. Thursday – the Brandywine set a record, surpassing its previous high of 20.4 feet in 2014, according to the National Weather Service.

It began to recede around 10:30 a.m. and is expected to fall below flood stage just after midnight, according to the agency.

Parts of northern Delaware received about 5 inches of rain Wednesday into Thursday from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Sunday in Louisiana and has since wreaked havoc up to the East Coast.

With waters rising Thursday after the rain subsided, the floods Thursday were largely attributed to the heavy rain in southeastern Pennsylvania, which was hit harder by the storms. 

THURSDAY FORECAST: As Delaware dries out after strong storms, wind, here's what to expect Thursday

PENNSYLVANIA PROBLEMS:Remnants of Ida leave death, destruction in Bucks, Montgomery counties. Flood threats remain

TORNADO TROUBLE:When Ida came to town: A look at how Wednesday's storm, tornado tore through South Jersey

At Northeast Boulevard and Vandever Avenue, cars were underwater past their tires Thursday morning as crews from as far as Sussex County rescued families from their homes. Roads and shopping centers in the city's East Side and Riverside neighborhoods submerged.

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Several residential areas north of the city also fully flooded, including the Rockland Mills Condominiums on Rockland Road where fire crews performed rescues Wednesday night. Smith's Bridge was roughly halfway submerged Thursday morning.

a house that has a sign on the side of a river: Smith Bridge along the Brandywine is flooded with several feet of water Thursday morning. © Courtesy of Scott Margolin Smith Bridge along the Brandywine is flooded with several feet of water Thursday morning.

Multiple roads and bridges near the Brandywine and elsewhere in northern Delaware closed Thursday due to flooding. They include the following:

  • Smith Bridge Road between Creek Road and Route 100
  • Thompson Bridge Road between Woodlawn Road and Guyencourt Road
  • The I-495 to 12th Street ramps
  • South Park Drive between Market and Van Buren streets
  • North Park Drive between Van Buren Street and the Swinging Bridge
  • 300 block of E. 15th. St.
  • Clifford Brown Walk, between East 14th and East 16th streets
  • 16th Street Bridge
  • East 7th Street/7th Street Pennisula
  • Vandever Avenue near Claymont and Bowers streets
  • North Market Street Bridge
  • Barley Mill Covered Bridge between Brackenville Road and Creek Road
  • Beaver Valley Road between Beaver Dam Road and Creek Road
  • Ramsey Road between Route 92 and Beaver Dam Road
  • Old Barley Mill Road between Rising Sun Road and Route 141
  • Rockland Road between Black Gates and Adams Dam roads
  • Adams Dam Road between State Park and Rockland Road
  • Hillside and Centerville roads between Centerville and Greenspring roads (wire down across road)
  • Creek Road between Ramsey Road and Beaver Valley
  • Mt. Cuba Road between Barley Mill Road and Rail Road bridge (wires down across road)
  • East Main Street between Route 273 and Old Baltimore Pike
  • Old Stanton Christiana Road at Stanton Christiana Road
  • Airport Road at Nonsuch Creek
  • Ogletown Road at Avon Road
  • Chambers Rock Road between the state line and Thompson Station Road
  • Rising Sun Lane between Route 52 and Route 141

MAP BELOW: Rain from Ida in the 24-hour period ending at about 8 a.m. Sept. 2, 2021, according to the National Weather Service. (Click on a dot to see the details)

C.R. McLeod, director of community relations for the state Department of Transportation, said once the water recedes they will inspect the bridges to ensure they are safe before reopening them.

The Bancroft pedestrian bridge in Alapocas Run State Park is closed indefinitely due to structural issues, the park announced Thursday morning.

Howard R. Young Correctional Institution on 12th Street is on a temporary lockdown due to standing water in parts of the facility's parking area that is affecting access. All inmate visits scheduled for Thursday were canceled.

Wilmington officials said residents should stay at home if possible. If evacuation is necessary, the Police Athletic League at 3707 N. Market St. and the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center at 501 N. Madison St. are available.

Wilmington residents in need of assistance can call 311. Power outages can be reported to (800) 898-8042. Road debris and damage can be reported to (302) 659-4600.

Contact Brandon Holveck at bholveck@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @holveck_brandon.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Hurricane Ida remnants in Delaware: Record floods prompt home evacuations in Wilmington

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