Flash flood on Pennsylvania road claims 4 lives; others missing Loop Jamaica

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WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. (AP) — A sudden flash flood swamped a south eastern Pennsylvania road, sweeping several cars away and claiming at least four lives. Three other people, including a 9-month-old boy and a 2-year-old girl, remained missing, authorities said.

Officials in Bucks County’s Upper Makefield Township said torrential rains occurred at about 5:30 pm Saturday in the Washington Crossing area. Other parts of the East Coast were experiencing heavy rain, including Vermont. Authorities there said landslides could become a problem on Sunday as the state copes with more rain following days of flooding.

“My team and I continue to monitor the situation as more rain falls in Vermont. There are flash flood warnings throughout the state today. Remain vigilant and be prepared,” Gov. Phil Scott said.

Sunday’s strong storms led to hundreds of flight cancellations at airports in the New York City area, according to the tracking service FlightAware. More than 300 flights were canceled at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey alone, while more than 160 flights were canceled at Kennedy International Airport in New York. Hundreds of flights were also delayed.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings and tornado watches for parts of Connecticut, western Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. A tornado warning was issued for an area along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border.

Thousands of power outages also were reported in the region.

Flooding forced Tweed New Haven Airport in Connecticut to close its terminal Sunday. The small airport, which offers daily commercial flights from one carrier, Avelo Airlines, said in a Twitter post that the terminal was closed until further notice. Several flights were reported delayed. Flash flooding was reported in New Haven, with several roads deemed impassable, according to the National Weather Service.

In north New Jersey, some roads were closed Sunday as crews worked to repair stretches of fragmented concrete that had buckled under the stress of heavy rain and flooding. Local creeks washed over passageways and a rockslide blocked passage along Route 46. Thoroughfares were a mess of water and rocks covered in brown sludge.

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, a sudden, torrential downpour turned deadly in Upper Makefield Township.

Fire Chief Tim Brewer told reporters that the area got about 6 1/2 to seven inches of rain (about 18 centimetres) in 45 minutes.

“In my 44 years, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “When the water came up, it came up very swiftly. We do not think that anybody drove into it, that they were actively on that road when it happened.”

There were about 11 cars on the road at the time, and three were swept away. There was about four to five feet of water over the road, he said. The bodies of four people had been recovered and three people — a woman and the two children — remained missing as of midday Sunday, Brewer said.

Brewer declined to identify the relationships of the victims but said “one family has been severely affected.”

Eight people were rescued from the cars and two from the creek, he said.

All three vehicles swept away were later located, and no one was found inside. One was about 1.5 miles from where it entered the creek.

“We are treating this as a rescue but we are fairly certain we are in a recovery mode at this time,” Brewer said.

About 150 people were searching the creek during the night and 100 were involved Sunday morning, walking along the creek, he said.

Meanwhile, recovery efforts were underway in Vermont from recent days of heavy precipitation.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation said 12 state roads remained closed while 12 were partially open to one lane of traffic and 87 have been reopened that were previously closed.

The agency said 211 bridge inspections have been completed this week in damaged areas and there are 4 state bridges closed and 4 town structures currently closed.

Rail lines throughout Vermont were also damaged by the rain and flooding, the transportation agency said. The agency said it reopened 57 miles (about 92 kilometres) of rail lines, and 64 miles of rail line remains closed.

“Our crews have been working tirelessly all week to repair the damaged state roads and bridges, and to restore the state’s transportation infrastructure for Vermonters and visitors to our state,” said Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn.

Heavy precipitation wasn’t the only extreme weather plaguing the U.S. A scorching heat wave across the U.S. Southwest has put roughly one-third of Americans under some type of heat watch or warning. That includes brutal temperatures in the hottest place on Earth — Death Valley, which runs along part of central California’s border with Nevada. Las Vegas also faced the possibility of reaching an all-time record temperature on Sunday.

The US Environmental Protection Agency posted air quality alerts for several states stretching from Montana to Ohio on Sunday because of smoke blowing in from Canadian wildfires.

“Air Quality alerts are in place for much of the Great Lakes, Midwest, and northern High Plains,” the National Weather Service said. “This is due to the lingering thick concentration of Canadian wildfire smoke over these regions.”