The Wolf Administration today provided an update on state agency response and recovery to remnants of Hurricane Ida, which brought historic severe weather across Pennsylvania.
“The remnants of Ida brought historic rainfall to Pennsylvania over the last several days. This was a rare culmination of events that caused record flooding in many places around the commonwealth. Many people across the state are dealing with the aftereffects of the storm today,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “I want to thank all of the emergency personnel who are worked so hard throughout the storm to keep Pennsylvanians safe.
“We have a long road ahead of us. It will take time to complete damage assessments and make assistance and resources available, but we will continue to share information about assistance as it becomes available in the days and weeks ahead. Right now, my administration is continuing to do everything in our power to support local emergency officials as they begin to assess the damage this storm caused in their communities.”
“While the water is receding in most parts of the state, we are still seeing ongoing flooding in the southeast portion of the state, some of which is surpassing record flood levels,” said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield. “We also know that Ida has not only caused significant damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure, but for many it has significantly disrupted lives and families. We continue to work with our federal and county partners to ensure that response and recovery efforts continue to move forward.”
Pennsylvania saw prolific rainfall, both in storm totals and rates. Reports from across the state range from 5 to 8 inches, some falling in a short time. Daily all-time records were broken; specifically, Scranton saw its second wettest day on record and Harrisburg and Altoona recorded their third wettest day.
The National Weather Service will be out surveying potential tornado damage in Chester and Montgomery counties today, as well as three areas of Bucks County.
Rivers and waterways are still high across the state, especially in southeastern Pennsylvania. Several waterways shattered previous crest records, including points along the East Branch of the Brandywine, the Brandywine, the Perkiomen, and the Schuylkill rivers.
Approximately 120 Pennsylvania National Guard members remain on active duty statewide to support local emergency and rescue operations. The Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA remains activated.
There are 389 roads closed statewide; 243 of these are a result of flooding and many are due to downed trees and limbs as well as utilities. There are 16 major state interstates or expressways closed. All of these roadways will remain closed until it is safe to reopen them to traffic.
“We understand that closed roadways and other impacts from the storm can be frustrating,” said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula. “Even though the rains have stopped, it is still so important that the public remain vigilant, and allow space for our crews and for emergency workers to do their jobs.”
PennDOT warns motorists not to drive across roads covered with water because even shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water. Never drive around barricades or signs on closed roads – Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
Anyone planning to travel should closely monitor weather conditions along travel routes. Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
Governor Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster emergency, which allows state agencies to more easily pre-position resources and respond more quickly to requests for state assistance.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced that several state park and forest campsites will be closed Wednesday and Thursday as the remnants of Tropical Depression Ida approach Pennsylvania. Additional campsite closures may be required depending on rainfall and the trajectory the storm takes as it passes through the commonwealth.
Those traveling from parks and in the risk area should check for alerts and advisories before heading out to a local or state park or forest to make sure facilities are open and conditions are safe to go boating or be near rivers and streams.
More information about how to prepare for any type of emergency, including specific information for people with access and functional needs or pets, is available on the Ready PA webpage.
For individuals who are struggling with stress from the storm, help is available. Call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, at 1-800-985-5990.