Flashing flooding that prompted calls for water rescues overnight is expected to be followed by lasting flooding problems Sunday — and beyond.
Boats were brought in overnight to try to get to people trapped by rising water in cars, homes and apartments in Upper Moreland, Abington, Willow Grove and other parts of Montgomery County, according to a dispatcher.
As of 3 a.m., Chester Creek was already about eight feet over flood stage and still rising.
McDade Boulevard in Darby was also underwater as Darby Creek overflowed.
And those reports came in before Hurricane Irene's full fury would be felt around the region.
The eye of the Category 1 storm at 3 a.m. was near Ocean City, Md., on its way to possible landfall later this morning near Atlantic City.
The blistering winds might not taper off till after breakfast time, but levels of some streams and rivers could keep rising through lunchtime and beyond.
Brandywine Creek was already overflowing by 3 a.m., on its way to eight feet above flood stage by mid-afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The Schuylkill was a foot above its banks at Norristown, projected to rise another six feet.
The Perkiomen Creek was on its way to overflow by 5-1/2 feet at Graterford this afternoon.
By noon Sunday, Brandywine Creek could be more seven feet above flood stage at Downingtown.
Mayor Nutter warned that the Schuylkill in Philadelphia could rise four feet above flood stage — a level not seen since 1869 — because of more than a foot of hurricane-related rain in Philadelphia.
Major flooding was expected along the Delaware River at New Hope and Easton, with other areas from Trenton north expecting moderate flooding.
The Rancocas Creek was also likely to rise well above its banks at Pemberton, according to the weather service.
A region-wide flash flood warning was in effect through 5:30 a.m., including Camden, Trenton, Philadelphia, West Chester and Vineland.
"We have flooding issues on many roadways throughout the region, mainly in Montgomery County and Bucks County," said PennDOT spokesman Eugene Blaum about 12:30 a.m.
Lower Merion Township Police, urging everyone to stay home, warned that "numerous trees are currently blocking roads and many locations are experiencing flooding conditions. The locations are too numerous to list."
Impassable because of flooding during the evening were Cobbs Creek Parkway, the Spring Garden Street tunnel near the Art Museum, Delaware Avenue at Spring Garden Street, and the intersection at 34th and Girard — to name a few locations.