New Castle County, Wilmington hit hardest by Ida rains

Charlie Megginson Government, Headlines


a bridge over a body of water

The city of Wilmington posted this photo of the North Market Street Bridge to social media Thursday.

With Kent and Sussex Counties spared the worst effects of Tropical Depression Ida, multiple areas in New Castle County suffered extensive damage and historic flooding.

Forecasts in southern Delaware quickly shifted, originally predicting two long, rainy days of thunderstorms with the potential for flooding and tornadoes. Instead, in Kent and Sussex Counties the skies cleared, bringing sunlight and temperatures in the mid-70s throughout Thursday.

About 5 inches of rain were dumped on northern New Castle County Wednesday night. Massive amounts of water flowing downstream from southeastern Pennsylvania meant the area was harder than just getting its own rain. 

The worst flooding could be seen along Brandywine Creek, a tributary of the Christina River.

In Wilmington, the Brandywine reached a flood stage of 23.14 feet, more than 4 feet above its major flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. 

City residents on Thursday were encouraged to stay home. Emergency reception centers have been set up at the Police Athletic League and William “Hicks” Anderson Center if evacuation becomes necessary.

Multiple emergency operations involving city, county and state personnel are currently underway, including water rescues by the Wilmington Fire Department and New Castle County, according to a press release from Mayor Mike Purzycki. 

A number of streets and bridges in the city remain closed, including:

  • South Park Drive, between Market Street and Van Buren Street
  • North Park Drive, between Van Buren Street and the Swinging Bridge
  • North Market Street Bridge
  • 300 block of East 15th Street
  • Clifford Brown Walk, between East 14th Street and East 16th Street
  • 16th Street Bridge
  • East 7th Street/7th Street Peninsula
  • Vandever Avenue in the area of Claymont Street and Bowers Street

Purzycki spent the morning overseeing operations and surveying damage in various parts of the city.

“Obviously this terrible storm has caused serious flooding devastation throughout the City,” Purzycki said in a press release. “We are doing our very best to ensure that everybody is safe, first and foremost, and that we address the aftermath of this historic storm so that we can get things back to normal again.”

Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, said in a Facebook post that he would work with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and Gov. John Carney’s office to “make sure our neighborhoods have access to the Delaware Resilience Fund created in the wake of last year’s major storms to help homeowners pay for repairs not covered by insurance, provide assistance with their insurance deductibles and cover property clean-up costs.”

The press released provided the following advice for residents:

  • Do NOT attempt to drive through any high water.
  • If you are in a flooded area, remain in place and call 9-1-1 for assistance.
  • If wires come down, call 9-1-1 to report it. Do NOT go near downed wires.
  • If a tree is down in a public street or right of way, contact 3-1-1.
  • Listen to guidance from first responders.

AAA advised motorists whose vehicles became trapped in high water to contact their insurance companies.

“Whether you drove through flood waters or had a parked vehicle submerged in flood waters, motorists should not attempt to start their vehicle and contact their auto insurance company immediately to determine the best course of action to transport and assess their vehicle,” said Ken Grant, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Mechanical components, computer systems, engine, transmission, axles, brake system and fuel system impacted by water contamination may render the vehicle unfit to drive and in many cases vehicles sustaining significant water damage will be determined to be a total loss, according to an AAA press release.

If faced with a flooded vehicle, AAA wants you to know of the following advice:

  • Do not attempt to start the vehicle – if the engine compartment was underwater and the car was parked do not attempt to start the car as the engine will have taken in water which will cause engine damage.

  • Call their auto insurance company first to assess if the vehicle has been flooded above the floor level and if a tow to a repair facility may be a wasted effort.

  • Call their repair facility for guidance and to see if they are accepting vehicles before arranging for a tow. Repair shops may not be open, or may not have parking if open.

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