Several New Jersey communities were evacuated on Thursday morning after nearly 5 inches of rain that started coming down on Wednesday night. Residents and pets had to be rescued by boats.

The extreme flooding led Gov. Phil Murphy later on Thursday to declare a state of emergency in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties.

“Our top priority is the safety our residents,” Murphy said. “We have activated the State Emergency Operations Center as of 6 a.m. this morning and are deploying resources and personnel to help with recovery efforts.”

Southampton township Administrator Kathleen Hoffman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that 50 people rescued from their homes by boat were being housed in the municipal building. Hoffman wasn't sure the residents would be able to live in their homes again.

The rain fell across Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

The rain also flooded sections of the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 295 and Route 73. PATCO suspended service between its Lindenhurst and Broadway stops.

Big Timber Creek overflowed its banks and flooded the area of Route 47 (Delsea Drive) and Broadway in Westville. Video posted by 6ABC Action News on Twitter shows firefighters carrying dogs from homes through 5 feet of water.

Residents in Gloucester Township told the Philadelphia Inquirer it was the worst flooding in 30 years. A resident told NBC Philadelphia the water on High Street was high enough to swim in.

Residents fleeing the waters waited at the Westville Community Center and firehouse, according to NBC Philadelphia.

Flooding in Kingston Estates in Cherry Hill (Tony Bartolucci)

The water was so powerful that it knocked over an RV parked in a Westville yard, according to 6ABC Action News.

The southern branch of the Rancocas River in Vincentown reached its highest level since Hurricane Irene in 2011, according to Gary Szatkowski, the retired head of the National Weather Service's Mt. Holly Office.

Flooding on Broadway in Westville (@NJRedCross via Twitter)

Zarrow said there will likely be one more round of strong thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon and expects storms with heavy rain and gusty winds to start developing after 3 p.m.

"Because the ground is now thoroughly soaked, flash flooding will be an immediate concern with any duration of heavy rain," Zarrow said.

Friday will bring drier air and sunny days this weekend.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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