The Delaware River’s tide crested at 11.99 feet during the Tuesday night into Wednesday rainstorm last week that brought peak wind gusts as high as 70 miles per hour.
“That is higher than (Superstorm) Sandy (in 2012) … Hurricane Ida (in 2021),” noted Delran Mayor Gary Catrambone in a phone call on Jan. 11.
Gov. Phil Murphy issued a state of emergency ahead of the storm on Jan. 9, which left several homes uninhabitable in the Riverside Park area’s mix of more than 100 one-to-two story homes.
“We had flooded basements, flooded backyards and loss of power,” said Catrambone, who had nothing but praise for the Delran Fire Department, its Office of Emergency Management (OEM) the Burlington County OEM and PSE&G.
“They were probably out there for 30 hours straight.”
Burlington’s OEM worked with the American Red Cross to stage a short-term shelter and disaster relief center at the Delran Firehouse on South Bridgeboro Street to provide assistance to storm-impacted residents, including those who evacuated due to the floods or loss of utilities, according to David Levinsky, the county’s public information officer.
As of Jan. 11, there were no sheltered residents, but some families from Delran and Burlington City went to the shelter and met with Red Cross and Burlington County Human Services officials. Crisis Counselors were also on site.
The intense Jan. 9 storm dropped between 2 to 3 inches of rain across most of the county, adding to already high rivers, streams and water tables and causing the Delaware River to crest at a record-breaking 11.99 feet. That created severe flooding conditions along the Route 130 corridor.
First responders conducted water rescues from multiple homes in Burlington County – three in Delran, three in Cinnaminson and one each in Palmyra, Bordentown City and Riverside. All evacuated residents were housed and no sheltering operations were required.
Delran and Cinnaminson were the hardest hit towns. More than 50 homes in each town were impacted by flood predominantly in the areas of Alden and Stewart avenues, River Drive in Delran and the East Riverton section of Cinnaminson.
Beverly also sustained damages to its sewage plant and firefighters responded to a house fire in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township during the storm on Tuesday night. Cinnaminson’s Emergency Management Coordinator Danny Norman issued an emergency proclamation on Wednesday, after reviewing conditions in the township and consulting with both the state and county offices of emergency management.
Municipal emergency management coordinators are authorized to issue local emergency proclamations via the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management’s Civilian Defense and Disaster Control Act.
“Our local team will continue to work closely with the state of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the county of Burlington’s Office of Emergency Management, local first responders and public utility companies to coordinate a response effort for our residents,” Norman said.
“The provisions of the act enable municipalities to take actions such as closing roads, establishing curfews, modifying traffic patterns, partnering with neighboring municipalities for mutual aid and securing funds or other forms of aid from all levels of government,” he added.
“We will continue to monitor all areas within our community to determine if any additional actions need to be taken.”
The county was staging equipment and placing personnel on standby in case a larger shelter needed to be opened ahead of more possible flooding on Jan. 12 and 13. The county OEM is also gathering damage assessments from all Burlington County towns so they can be included in a possible statewide application for disaster assistance.
Burlington County Commissioner Dan O’Connell toured some of the impacted areas of Delran on the afternoon of Jan. 10. He said residents told him the flooding was the worst in recent history, exceeding even Superstorm Sandy.
“The more frequent and intense storms, floods and extreme weather events shows how climate change is a threat,” he noted. “Thankfully, our county is working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and many of our most at-risk communities to better plan for climate change so we can reinforce our infrastructure and hopefully reduce some of the impacts.”
Catrambone added that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to study the berm and sewer plant in the flood-prone area.
Last year, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced a grant award for the county and 11 municipalities along the Delaware River to assess climate change-related hazards and do resiliency planning for floods and severe storms.