The remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the Philadelphia region on Wednesday night, bringing massive flooding, tornadoes, and power outages affecting tens of thousands of people across the region. Follow our live blog for the latest information and news at Inquirer.com.
Here are some resources to help you deal with the aftermath:
Basic safety tips after a hurricane
Don’t touch downed wires. Peco says you should consider all downed wires to be live and extremely dangerous.
Avoid flooded areas when outside. Floodwater can be deceptively deep and you shouldn’t try to walk through water deeper than your knee, according to Philadelphia’s flooding guidelines. Even if floodwater looks safe to cross, it’s unclear what’s in the water “at any given point in time,” the CDC warns. High floodwaters can conceal downed power lines and debris, and floodwaters can carry human and animal waste, not to mention chemical, biological, and radiological waste from households, businesses, and industrial areas. All of these can be harmful to health, and exposure to floodwater can cause tetanus, skin rashes, gastrointestinal disease, and infections in wounds.
If you have to walk into floodwater, the CDC recommends wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles. If you have made contact with floodwater, wash with soap and clean water as soon as possible; if that’s not available, the CDC recommends alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer. Treat wounds and seek medical attention if needed, and wash any clothes you wore into the floodwater with hot water and detergent before reusing them. Keep children from playing on lawns and fields until the ground surface has dried. If you or a family member develops fever higher than 100 degrees, vomiting, diarrhea, or severe stomach cramps in the next five days, call a doctor or health-care provider.
Avoid driving through flooded roads. As little as two feet of moving water can sweep an SUV from a road. If your car stalls in floodwaters, leave it.
If you lost power, throw out all perishable foods that haven’t been refrigerated for more than six hours. Don’t refreeze frozen foods that have thawed. If any kitchen utensils or counters were touched or splashed by floodwater, the city recommends washing them with soap and water and wiping them down with a diluted bleach solution.
If you smell gas in the city, contact Philadelphia Gas Works at 215-235-1212 and provide your location, or call 911. PGW’s Customer Call Center is also open, and can be reached at 215-235-1000.
Philadelphians who experience drinking-water quality problems, such as discolored water, should contact the Philadelphia Water Department’s Water Emergency Hotline at 215-685-6300 in order to have an inspector investigate.
Keep kids out of wet areas. Clean and disinfect wet toys with a diluted bleach solution or wash them in a dishwasher with hot water before letting children play with them.
For more information on flood recovery from the city, you can subscribe to OEM alerts (text READYPHILA to 888-777) and follow @PhilaOEM on Twitter.
Where to go for help
If you are dealing with property damage, reach out to your rental insurance or home insurance company. If your property is uninhabitable, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or head to the city and Red Cross-operated reception center at West Philadelphia High School (4901 Chestnut St.). You can also view a full list of open Red Cross shelters in the region on the organization’s website.
If you receive SNAP benefits and lost food purchased with them due to a power outage, flood, or fire, you may be eligible to have those benefits replaced. Community Legal Services of Philadelphia says that you should contact your local County Assistance Office within 10 days of your food’s spoiling to request a replacement. A full list of CAOs is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services website at dhs.pa.gov/Services/Assistance/Pages/CAO-Contact.aspx.
How to help others
For a list of groups helping victims of Ida, both in Philly and elsewhere, check our list at Inquirer.com/idahelp.
What to do if you have a tree down or see a downed tree
If the winds from Ida resulted in a downed tree on your property or in your neighborhood, here’s what to do.
According to the City of Philadelphia, you should call 911 if a tree is blocking a road, has fallen on a house, a car, or another property. For trees that fall on electrical wires, call Peco’s emergency line at 800-841-4141.
For all nonemergency downed-tree requests, you should submit a request through Philly 311, which can also be reached by phone at 311 or 215-686-8686. A nonemergency downed-tree request is defined as “a tree is not blocking a road or on a house, car, or property, or when it’s not on electrical wires.”
Keep in mind that Philly 311 will close at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, for Labor Day.
What to do if you were flooded
When it’s safe to return indoors, turn off the electricity to the area that’s been flooded. If you can’t access your circuit breaker without walking through water, call an electrician. Until the electricity is turned off, the water could cause electrical shocks.
Document the damage. Document damage to both the house and its contents. If you have insurance, photos and videos will help support your claim. Here are some more detailed tips on how to file an insurance claim for wind or flood damage.
When it’s possible to do so, get rid of the water by pumping, mopping, and/or opening clogged drains. When pumping out a flooded basement, do it in stages. You also want to wait until there’s no standing water left in the yard around your home. Pumping too early or too fast could cause structural damage to your home.
Throw away food, medicine, and drinks that may have come in contact with floodwater. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut. “When in doubt, throw it out,” says the Red Cross.
Clean and disinfect. Wear protective gear, and open any windows or doors to improve ventilation. Floodwater may be contaminated with sewage or other dangerous bacteria. Be prepared to toss a lot, and take breaks when you need them. It’s normal for this process to feel overwhelming, both physically and emotionally.
Report damage to the city with OEM’s damage assessment tool. The city asks that business and home owners use that tool to take a short survey and upload photos of damage so that responding organizations can better understand the extend of damage in the area, and know where to direct resources.
Do not attempt to drive through flooded areas. Even a few feet of water can stall your car or sweep it away.
Philadelphia County road closures
Kelly Drive closed both directions from Lincoln Drive to Sedgley
I-676 in Center City in both directions, except the section of eastbound I-676 between Broad Street and Interstate 95, which reopened to traffic Thursday night.
MLK Drive closed in both directions from Falls Bridge to the Art Museum
U.S. 13 (Bristol Pike)
Route 32 (River Road/Main Street/Delaware Avenue)
Route 263 (Upper York Road)
Route 513 (Hulmeville Road)
Blue School Road
Edison Furlong Road
Minsi Trail/Blooming Glen Road/Hilltown Pike
Old Bethlehem Road
Wrightstown Road/Worthington Mill Road
U.S. 1 (Baltimore Pike)
Route 23 (Valley Forge Road)
Route 41 (Pennsylvania Avenue)
Route 162 (Embreeville Road)
Route 926 (Street Road)
Clay Creek Road
U.S. 1 North (Baltimore Pike)
Dutton Mill Road
Route 23 (Fourth Street)
Route 63 (Sumneytown Pike/Main Street)
Route 663 (Layfield Road)
The city’s Office of Emergency Management, urges you via Twitter to check your route before leaving home.
This is not a complete list of road closures in the area. More detailed information about road closures can be found at 511pa.com, which provides updated conditions on more than 40,000 miles of roadways in the region.
Parts of public transit have been affected by cancellations and delays; here’s where to get the latest information about delays:
Service on SEPTA’s Manayunk/Norristown and Cynwyd lines on regional rail are suspended. Service on the Norristown High Speed Line between Norristown Transportation Center and Gulph Mills Station also remains suspended. Many bus lines are experiencing delays due to an operator shortage, SEPTA notes online. You can find the latest system status at realtime.septa.org/systemstatus.
All rail service on New Jersey Transit, aside from the Atlantic City line, was suspended shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday. Buses and the light rail were running, but riders should “expect significant delays, cancellations & extensive detours due to major flooding and stranded vehicles on roadways,” officials said. You can find the latest NJ Transit updates on Twitter at @NJTRANSIT
Some routes have been delayed or canceled. To find out if your route has been affected, check Amtrak’s Twitter account for service alerts: @amtraknecalerts.
Philadelphia International Airport
No issues are currently reported at the Philadelphia International Airport.
If your service provider is PSE&G, you can view or report PSE&G’s outage map and alerts by going to the outage page at nj.pseg.com/outageandlleaks.
Water safety and use
Aqua Pennsylvania, which supplies water to the Philadelphia suburbs, has advised people to reduce their water usage after shutting down its Pickering East and West water treatment plants due to Ida’s impact. The company asked that customers “take shorter showers, don’t run sprinklers and minimize your use of washers and dishwashers until further notice.” Visit aquaamerica.com/our-states/pennsylvania.aspx for updates.
If you’re near Norristown, Pennsylvania-American Water Co. issued a boil water advisory for a section of Upper Merion Township on Thursday due to a water main break. The company says that you should boil any drinking or cooking water for one minute before using. For more information, call PAW’s customer service line at 1-800-565-7292, or visit their website.
If you’re in Bucks County, the Lower Bucks County Joint Municipal Authority issued a boil water advisory for its area, which includes Falls Township, Tullytown Boroough, Bristol Township, and Middletown Township. Residents are asked to boil water for one minute before using, and conserve whatever “wherever you can.” The authority expects water pressure to be restored by 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Trash pickup and other city delays
The Philadelphia Streets Department has said that trash and recycling collections will continue in areas of the city that have not been affected by flooding, and that residents should set out their garbage on their regular collection day. Areas that have been impacted by flooding are likely to see delays.
What’s closed right now in the Philly area
Schools. Schools are closed in the following districts: Norristown (in person and virtual), Central Bucks School District (in person and virutal), Centennial School District in Bucks County (in person), Cheltenham School District (in person), Deptford (in person). The Philadelphia School District announced that all schools “will engage in 100% digital learning” on Friday, and all after-school activities are canceled.
Staff writers Aubrey Whelan, Andrew Maykuth, and others contributed to this report.