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January 10, 2024

Delco man rescued after getting stranded in tree surrounded by flooded Marcus Hook Creek

Video captured first responders' mission to save him Tuesday night. The man's phone had just 2% battery when he called 911

Weather Rescues
Delco Flood Rescue Middletown Fire Company No. 1/Facebook

The Delaware County Water Rescue Task Force helped a man surrounded by the flooded Marcus Hook Creek in Upper Chichester on Tuesday night. The man, whose face was obscured in video released by officials has not been identified.

The powerful storm that swept through the Philadelphia region on Tuesday prompted thousands of emergency calls related to flooded waterways in residential areas.

One rescue Tuesday night in Upper Chichester saved a man who had been swept up in floodwaters before finding temporary safety by perching himself in a tree.

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Video of his rescue was shared Wednesday as Delaware County officials and rescuers discussed the response during a press conference.

Around 10:55 p.m., a man called 911 to report that he was trapped in Marcus Hook Creek in Upper Chichester. The man said he had left his home to respond to what he thought was an emergency in the community, but he quickly became overwhelmed by the water rushing around him.

"At the time, the water was so strong. He had climbed a tree, and really couldn't tell us much more," Timothy Boyce, Delaware County's emergency services director, said. "He told us he had 2% left on his battery on his phone."

Rescue officials used geolocation data to identify exactly where the man was in the area of Riviera Road and Flora Lane. First responders arrived at the scene within three minutes.

Aston Township Fire Department Capt. Matthew McCormick described how the Delaware County Water Rescue Task Force — created in recent years by county leaders — performed the rescue.

Three members of the task force entered  the water and used a rope to pass a life jacket to the stranded man. Other rescuers then tied a rope to a surfboard, which the man used to exit the tree and water. The man, who was not identified, was hospitalized with minor injuries.

"The danger of running water is that it's uncontrollable, so the current that goes with that is sweeping between your legs and everything else," McCormick said. "It could take you and sweep you. It's actually very dangerous to go into the water, but to make this rescue, that was the thought to go (ahead)."

Boyce said it was a life-threatening situation for the man in the tree, who had no way to get out without returning to the water.

Members of Aston, Chester City, Chester Heights, Middletown Township and Upper Chichester Fire Departments assisted in the rescue. Middletown Fire Company No. 1 shared photos on Facebook from the Upper Chichester rescue along with other emergency scenes that occured in Delaware County during he storm and its aftermath.

The Delaware County Emergency Communications hub received 1,964 calls during the storm, the Delaware County Daily Times reported. Boyce said there were 27 water rescues.

The National Weather Service recorded a peak wind gust of 51 mph and measured more than 2 inches of rainfall from Tuesday into Wednesday at Philadelphia International Airport

More rain is forecast for the Philadelphia region Friday into Saturday. It is expected to bring up to an inch of rain and 40-50 mph winds, according to the NWS