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Post-Flooding Dangers Still Lurk, Philadelphia Officials Warn

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the cleanup continues along Philadelphia’s river drives (Kelly and MLK), Mayor Nutter is urging residents to remain cautious following what officials say was the seventh heaviest rainfall in the city’s history.

During last night’s storm, Philadelphia police performed 15 rescues of drivers stranded by rising waters.  All incidents were near the city’s creeks, and none resulted in injuries.

The fire department responded to nearly 60 service calls overnight.

The departments of Streets and Parks & Recreation are now working to clean up the drives along the Schuylkill River, but they are not expected to reopen before the afternoon rush hour.

Both Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Drive still had significant water across the roadway.  Lincoln Drive was said to be in better shape.

Officials say a total of 4.81 inches of rain fell on the city, as measured at the airport.  The Schuylkill River crested at 13.91 feet at 4am, which was higher than that river crested during Hurricane Irene or Superstorm Sandy.

The flood warning for the Schuylkill remained in effect today, but will end when it falls below flood stage.  But Nutter cautions people — particularly parents —  not to let their guard down:

“The creeks and streams are still dangerous, with very swift, moving water.  Parents, please — and other adults, community members — please tell your children and others not to play around streams and creeks at this time.  Just because the rain has stopped, just because it appears the rivers and streams are receding, unfortunately we can get lulled into a false sense of security.  But below the surface they are moving quickly, and can very easily capture folks, and they’re not able to fight back.”

Streets commissioner David Perri says that over the next several days his crews will inspect roadways and bridges throughout the city for damage from the heavy rainfall, and he’s asking for help from residents:

“If the public should notice any damage to any bridge structures, please contact 311 so that we can deploy an inspector, to check out the situation.”

Meantime, Samantha Phillips, the city’s director of emergency management, is asking for residents whose homes were damaged to notify the city’s non-emergency call center, 311. She said the city may seek federal disaster relief.

“We’re tracking damages for a potential declaration,” she said. “I’m not sure we’re going to get to the thresholds we need to make that happen, but we do want to hear from the public and track all related costs.”

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