Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More Rain Than Superstorm Sandy - 7 inches in Three Hours!!

July 29th was unbelievable!! I was given some cat scratching posts through FreeCycle and knew we were expecting rain, but when 1 PM came and went without much darkening of the skies, I thought it would be safe to go pick them up. I easily found the address and loaded them into the car and decided to treat myself to some breakfast.

I stopped at the Westmont Diner and found that they served breakfast all day, so I ordered my favorite, creamed chipped beef over potatoes with wheat toast and two scrambled eggs. While I was enjoying my meal, the man who was in the booth next to mine had his cell phone go off with one of those emergency tones like the Emergency Broadcast System does on television. He said that the storm was coming and it was a weather warning. OK. It still didn't look too bad outside, but I guess the rain was coming after all. Within five minutes, his cell phone went off again. It was a severe storm warning indicating flash flooding expected.

Well, they've said that before and the flash flooding I'm used to seeing is the kind they have out west where the water comes rushing out of the mountains or across the hot dry desert and into the ravines taking everything in its path with it. I'd never seen anything like that here in South Jersey where we have no mountains and we're maybe 50 feet at most above sea level. I knew the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River had mountain streams and running water, but our side was mostly flat and tidal. The what flooding we get is almost always because of too much pavement and poor drainage. High tides sometimes contribute if timed with the rainfall.

But, when it started getting much darker and I began to hear thunder, I decided to cut my meal short and head on home. I didn't even get out of the restaurant when the rain began. I started driving down Kings Highway which actually runs downhill about half of the way home and the water I was seeing rushing down the road and covering it from curb to curb was incredible. It was raining so hard, I was having a hard time seeing. Cars coming towards me would hit the water and blow it across my windshield completely blocking my view. I was only going 20 mph, it was that bad.

I got to Market Street and turned right to go home. That leads right into town after crossing Route 130, a major divided highway in the southern part of the state. When I got to the light, I noticed that cars weren't continuing through the light. I then noticed that cars were coming the WRONG WAY towards the cars that weren't continuing on. I suddenly realized that the road must be flooded so badly no one could get through. While all these cars were coming back towards us, they were turning into the motel that is right there to get off the highway. Suddenly, one guy in a white truck decides he's not going to turn around, so he just zips on past all the cars turning around and heads into the underpass. I have a gut feeling that the truck you'll see in the photos in this link are him. If so, then GOOD!! If that's what it takes to teach him to not be an idiot, then so be it. Here's that link.

Two of the pictures I have posted are of flooding near where I live that happened before yesterday. The one with the Metro Diner sign is looking west from Brooklawn Circle East to Brooklawn Circle West which, as you can see, is under water, as are a couple of cars stupid enough to drive through it. That was from a storm this past December that didn't
Brooklawn Circle West
dump NEARLY the same amount of rain as we had yesterday. It's because we have so much blacktop and concrete covering all open ground and the drainage is so poor, the water has nowhere to go. At the time of this event, it had the misfortune of being timed with a high tide and a full moon.

The next image where you can see a detour sign and several row homes is two blocks from my house. It is the intersection of Market Street and Broad. That photo was taken in 2009 - again, the rain fall was considerably less than we had yesterday. Honestly, this is what I saw when I came home that day. I'd never seen it before where the water was so high it covered all the sidewalks at that intersection. I usually go home by driving past these houses and
Gloucester City, Broad & Market
turning left two blocks later. I wasn't able to do that. Too much water and a car stalled out in the middle of it. Holy cow!! So, I had to turn left on Broad and then turn on to my street that way.

Finally, there is a picture of a section of town where you can see banners for Max's Seafood Cafe. That is the intersection of Hudson and Burlington. Max's is on one corner and the parking lot with these banners is on the opposite corner. Seeing that photo blew my mind. That WAS taken that day and I never thought that part of town would flood like that!!! I can't imagine what
Gloucester City, Burlington at Hudson
those houses' basements looked like after this was all done. 

So, that's how it was on July 29th. I was soaked to the skin by the time I got from the car to the house. I really didn't have a clue that we were getting as much water as we got, but I knew it was coming down like crazy. I told someone that instead of it raining cats and dogs, it was raining dinosaurs and mastodons!!

This event was originally published at Bubblews.com.

Images are from local news reports published in our city's small-town paper. Gloucester City News

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