By CBS3 Staff


WESTVILLE, N.J. (CBS) – People woke up to dangerous flooding Thursday morning after overnight downpours left residents underwater. The torrential rain made for a busy night for first responders across the Delaware Valley. Dozens of people in Westville, New Jersey, were evacuated from their homes due to flooding as South Jersey was hit especially hard, leaving cars stranded and prompting dramatic water rescues.

New Jersey Weather: Homes Evacuated In Westville Township Due To Flooding

Flash flooding caused standing water as high as car roofs, cutting people off from the street. The streets in Westville turned to rivers prompting mandatory evacuations and dozens of water rescues. Jessica Archer’s family was among them.

“I grabbed my rabbit, I grabbed the dog, I grabbed all the food as possible, and just waited for them to bring the boats to us to get out,” Archer said.

Residents say this is the worst flooding they’ve seen in decades. Michael Hess is dealing with a flooded basement, but his animals were also his top priority. He helped first responders load the anxious puppies onto a boat.

“Three dogs got out, they did good, half my chickens didn’t though. Unfortunately, they got stuck in the coop, but the other ones made it out. We got them in the garage, they’re dry,” Hess said.

For first-time homebuyer Keith Murray, the flooding of his completely renovated home left him a bit stunned.

“I’ve only been in this place just over a year, so it’s a little overwhelming. My furnace, my hot water heater, I purposely bought that house because if was fully refurbished with all new stuff,” Murray said.

Shockingly high water overtook signs, fences and high-end cars at Kasper Performance on Broadway.

Through their losses, everyone praised the efforts of rescue teams who navigated boats in the dark and waded through chest-deep water to ensure that no one was left behind.

“Everyone made it out safe, we’re all OK, that’s all that really matter,” Archer said.

Jennifer Hill says she’s unable to return back to her family home yet.

“They’re saying we cannot go back to our homes,” Hill said. “The home has got to be cleared by the city and make sure everything electrical is good and they got to come in and clear the house before we return home.”

Hill says boats helped rescue her and her family from their home.

“We seen boys coming to rescue us,” Hill said. “We got in the boat and were sent to the main Broadway.”

First responders took about 60 evacuees to the Westville Community Center, but only 20 remain. The plan is to open up nearby Parkview Elementary School to anyone without a place to stay tonight.

The Red Cross says they are assisting people with food, water and a safe place to stay.

In other parts of South Jersey, rescuers helped a man in Collingswood out of a stranded car and onto a high water vehicle. At least five cars got stuck in the standing water as most drivers left them abandoned.

Police also had to divert traffic off of Route 130 because the water was so high.

Police in Lumberton have a portion of Main Street closed and Westville police still have a section of Broadway closed due to flooding.

CBS3’s Trang Do and Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.