Devastated communities in Bucks and Burlington Counties on Tuesday began assessing the damage caused by the “100-year flood” event that occurred during torrential downpours across the region Monday night.
Croydon in Bucks County was the hardest-hit area, receiving 10.28 inches of rainfall, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. Florence Township in Burlington County received 7.63 inches of rain, while about 2.3 inches fell in Philadelphia.
Bucks County officials said they received 1,171 emergency and nonemergency calls for assistance between 4 and 8 p.m., almost double the normal rate.
Burlington County officials said that Burlington Township and Burlington City also bore the brunt of the storms. In total, there were 12 water rescues as the county received more than 400 emergency calls and over 1,400 nonemergency calls.
“We’re thankful that there were no serious injuries reported and that our first responders were able to assist those residents who needed it,” County Commissioner Dan O’Connell said in a statement. “We’re just beginning to collect information about damages, but we know there’s going to be a lot of cleaning up to do.”
U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, whose district encompasses all of Bucks County, visited the ravaged Lafayette Gardens condominium complex on Bristol Pike in Bensalem and posted photos of the “heartbreaking scene” on his Twitter account. He said his office is in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to secure disaster funding.
The 61-unit complex was declared uninhabitable, displacing at least 60 residents, Bensalem’s director of public safety, Frederick Harran, confirmed in an email. Inspectors will decide whether the complex needs to be condemned.
Connie Leon, 39, a longtime resident at Lafayette Gardens, said she lost everything in her unit.
“It happened within minutes,” Leon said. “The worst I’ve ever seen and the most scared I’ve ever been. My children and animals is what matters. I lost everything. Everything.”
State Sen. Robert M. “Tommy” Tomlinson and three state representatives sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf seeking a state disaster declaration.
“The massive storm completely overwhelmed our communities,” they said in the letter sent Tuesday. “The constant downpour resulted in flooding of our neighborhoods, touching not only our roads and businesses, but also destroying the homes, cars, and property of our constituents. Minutes of rain have resulted in millions of dollars of property damage and devastating losses from this storm.”
In Bristol, five homes were condemned because of flood damage, John Miller, a borough inspector, said in an email.
The National Weather Service late Monday night declared that communities along the Delaware River in Bucks and Burlington County had just experienced a “100-year flood” event.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 100-year flood is called that because there is a 1% chance any year of such extreme flooding in a particular area. That means there is always a small chance it could happen — it could happen again this year or next year. It doesn’t mean such flooding won’t happen again for another century.
The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania said it was assisting displaced residents in Bensalem, Croydon, and Northeast Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management said it responded to the 3600 block of Red Lion Road to help residents.
From late Monday afternoon to early evening, the weather service issued flash-flood emergency declarations that began in Bucks and Burlington Counties as well as Northeast Philadelphia. The affected areas were soon extended to Center City, South Philadelphia, and parts of Camden County, and then to the eastern half of Delaware County.
When the rains began to sweep into the region, the weather service warned: “Widespread and life threatening flash flooding is occurring. This is an extremely dangerous situation, do not venture out unless it is an emergency or to move to higher ground.”
Staff writer Rob Tornoe and staff photographer Tyger Williams contributed to this article.