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September 02, 2021

Officials in Philly region urge residents to report storm damage caused by Ida

The city Office of Emergency Management has a form allowing residents and business owners to submit information about their properties online

Government Natural Disasters
Flood Zestys Manayunk Jon Tuleya/PhillyVoice

Pumps remove water from the basement of Zesty's in Manayunk. The restaurant has been at 4328 Main St. for 28 years, and its building backs up to the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River, both of which flood due to the storms caused by former Hurricane Ida.

The Delaware Valley on Thursday took the first steps on what appears to be a long road to recovery after remnants of Hurricane Ida brought severe rainfall, flooding and and at least seven tornadoes to the area.

"It's an historic event," said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, who directs the Office of Emergency Management. "As I was today scouting different areas along the Schuylkill, everybody (was) saying, 'We've never seen it like this. We've never seen it like this.'

"It's gonna be a long process to get to the clean-up and recovery phase because we're not there yet." 

Once the Schuylkill River crested at a record height Thursday and floodwaters began to recede, Thiel said crews turned their attention to damage assessment. It remains unknown how much funding will be allocated to helping residents and businesses recover. 

"We'll have to do an assessment on the damage, both residential and commercial, and try to figure out what resources are available to us based on declarations that may be coming forward either from the governor or from the president," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. 

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a preemptive emergency declaration on Tuesday in anticipation of the severe weather, which allows state agencies to more easily distribute resources and respond to requests for assistance. A few days earlier, he sent a letter to the FEMA, urging the agency to lower the damage-assessment threshold required to secure federal aid. 

"We have a long road ahead of us," Wolf said Thursday. "It will take time to complete damage assessments and make assistance and resources available, but we will continue to share information about assistance as it becomes available in the days and weeks ahead."

For now, Thiel encouraged residents to be proactive in self-reporting damage. "We're never gonna be able to identify everything, so we really do need folks to help us help you," he said.

Below, is information on how to report damage from Ida's storms in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


The Office of Emergency Management has a damage-assessment survey posted on its website. Philly residents and business owners can complete and submit the questions online. Users can also upload five photographs to the survey to supplement written descriptions of the damage to their properties.

"We don't know if you're basement's flooded or your neighbor's basement is flooded. We don't know what's happening in every corner of the city if folks don't tell us," Thiel said.

Disclaimers at the top of the survey state information provided will possibly be shared with city, state, federal and nonprofit agencies assisting with flood recovery efforts. 

Pennsylvania Suburbs

The Bucks County Emergency Management Agency is asking residents to report damage to the emergency management coordinators in their respective municipalities. The local agencies will compile the damage reports they receive and pass them along to county officials. The Bucks County website contains a list of links to each municipality's homepage

Chester County's Department of Emergency Services also wants residents to report damage from Ida to their respective municipalities. For additional tips and resources, the Chester County Health Department has compiled a flood recovery guide.

Delaware County's Emergency Services Department says residents can report damage to the municipalities where they live. Municipal officials will compile the reports and forward them to the county offices.

Montgomery County residents can access the countywide, damage-assessment form to submit storm damage reports. Users can upload photos of their damaged homes or businesses. The form states residents' information will be shared with emergency management officials at the municipality, state and federal levels. 

"We are working on getting up the information so you can report to your township, but you do need to report both to the county and to the township," County Commissioner Ken Lawrence Jr. said during a briefing Thursday. 

South Jersey 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was in Gloucester County on Thursday to survey tornado damage in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County. Some homes were missing roofs and had windows blown out, while others were entirely leveled. Tornadoes also moved through parts of Burlington and Mercer counties.

"An extraordinary, sadly tragic, historic 24 hours in New Jersey – there's no other way to put it," said Murphy, who has declared a state of emergency. "This is going to take us some time to get out of, there's no question about it, and I want to just say on behalf on all of us, we're going to stay here and be by the side of the residents and the small businesses that have been impacted so severely."

People in Camden County can report damage to homes or businesses through the the Office of Emergency Management's assessment portal.  

Emergency officials in Burlington and Gloucester counties said residents should file damage reports through the police departments of their respective municipalities. Burlington County's website links to the homepages for each of the municipal websites, as does Gloucester County's website.