OCEAN CITY — The DeColli siblings of Oxford, Pa. — Ryan, 20, Alicia, 23, and Rachel, 25 — took a very different kind of dip Thursday during their weeklong vacation in this seaside resort.
With five family cars threatened by knee-deep flood waters from a deluge that dumped 2 inches of rain on the city in an hour, the trio donned swimsuits and ventured out to push the vehicles to higher ground.
In the five years their family has been renting the same home in the 3800 block of Westminster Lane, the DeCollis said they had never seen so much water in the streets.
Neither had Chris Weaver, 34, of Egg Harbor Township. Weaver, who said he grew up in Margate and was familiar with the concept of flooded roads, said the water he drove through Thursday morning was the deepest he had ever seen.
“I’m just making it,” he said as he maneuvered his work van, with 16 inches of ground clearance, through an intersection with 15 inches of standing water in it. Weaver, who owns a carpentry business, was attempting to reach a job at a home under construction.
Road construction that has been ongoing in the Merion Park section of the city added to navigational difficulties. Many streets are unevenly paved and patched as New Jersey American Water continues to replace water infrastructure, and a city contractor has begun replacing sidewalks and curbs. The work is part of a $2.8 million road and storm drain improvement project scheduled to be completed later this year in the low-lying neighborhood.
With more than 4 inches of rain falling overall, Ocean City was the heaviest-hit town in Cape May and Atlantic counties. The series of slow-moving storms wrought havoc on commuters as well as vacationers during the morning.
At 7 p.m., Ocean City streets were still flooded between 29th and 33rd streets from Bay Avenue to West Avenue. Three blocks on each street were still impassable.
Early in the day, at 9:23 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for southeastern Atlantic County and northern Cape May County, including Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Ocean City. Residents living near streams or creeks were advised to move to higher ground and never try to cross swift-moving bodies of water.
The National Weather Service issued a special marine warning for the area until 9:45 a.m., warning boaters of high winds and waves.
Emergency responders reported several downed trees and wires in the area.
Two houses on the 600 block of First Avenue in Galloway Township were severely burned after being struck by lighting Thursday morning, police there said. They were rendered uninhabitable.
The residents of the homes were unharmed, but a dog in one of the houses died.
“We tried but we couldn't do anything for him,” township Fire Chief Portale said.
One firefighter was taken to the hospital for elevated blood pressure but was later released.
The first fire was reported just after 10 a.m., and First Avenue was shut down for several hours as a result of the two fires, police said. Personnel left the scene at 3:30 p.m.
There were a few outages scattered throughout the area, according to Atlantic City Electric’s outage map. At one point about 30 people were without power in Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point in separate incidents, but outages were generally shortlived.
Staff Writers Steve Hughes, Anjalee Khemlani and Braden Campbell contributed to this report.
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