First responders in boats have gone door-to-door near Philadelphia to rescue dozens of people trapped in their homes, while 40 children were saved in Pittsburgh after their school bus was inundated by floodwaters from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Aerial footage shot by FOX29 early Thursday showed some residents climbing down a ladder from a second-floor window in Bridgeport, just outside Philadelphia, and into a dinghy. Others were helped by crews onto boats after wading out of their homes through the waist-deep water.
The entire street was submerged by floodwaters after intense rain caused the nearby Schuylkill River to surge at least 12 feet and overflow overnight.
Bridgeport Borough manager Keith Truman told CNN about 50 residents had been rescued. First responders were still combing the area but no deaths had been reported so far.
The riverside neighborhood of Manayunk was also largely still underwater Thursday.
Major flooding swamped highways, submerged cars and disrupted rail service in the Philadelphia area.
City officials were still predicting “historic flooding” on Thursday as river levels continued to rise. The National Weather Service warned the Schuylkill River could surge to as high as 17 feet.
Meanwhile, dozens of kids and one adult needed to be rescued by boat in Pittsburgh early Wednesday after the yellow bus they were taking to Shaler Area High School became inundated by flash floods in Shaler Township.
“It got worse and worse, it was like a raging river,” Linda Reinhardt, who witnessed the rescue, told WPXI. “They described it as a wall of water coming down the hill.”
Four crews from the Cherry City Volunteer Fire Company were forced to respond to the scene on Seavey Road around 6:50 a.m. and used red, inflatable emergency rafts to rescue the kids and the bus driver, they said on Facebook. Photos of the rescue show the cheese bus’s tires completely submerged in the rising water.
“The kids opened the back door and they were ready to get out and we had to tell them to stay until the boats got there,” she told the outlet, describing the current as dangerously powerful.
Student Jason Vinski said his classmates were panicking.
“A lot of people were like screaming and stuff and I thought it was crazy because that’s never happened to me before,” the student said, saying the waters just kept rising.
“I looked out the window and I was thinking I could take a kayak out in it.”
The students were soaked from the rain and flood and some lost their shoes but no injuries were reported. They were later brought to school and given warm clothes.
Following the school bus rescue, the volunteer rescue teams responded to Millvale where they saved people from multiple residents after a local creek overflowed and flooded homes, the fire department said.
Numerous deaths were reported overnight across New York City and New Jersey as the storm-ravaged the area.
Rescuers were searching for more stranded people Thursday morning and were bracing for an increased death toll.
More than 200,000 electricity customers were still without power early Thursday across the northeast – mostly in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, according to PowerOutage.US.