Western Bradford grapples with flood damage
WEST BURLINGTON TWP. - The deluge has brought destruction and devastation to western Bradford County.
The flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee last week can be seen at the Bradford County Manor in West Burlington Township, where furniture ruined by the storm sits in a pile in back of the building. It can also been in East Troy and Troy, where the Redington Avenue Bridge in the borough remained barricaded Monday.
In an earlier interview, Jim Shadduck, administrator of the Bradford County Manor, said there was 4-5 inches of water on the first floor of Manor early Thursday morning, and hours before, at 3 a.m., the 34 residents who reside on the first floor were evacuated to the third floor in anticipation of the flooding.
He later stated that it was the first time that flood waters have gotten inside the Manor, and that the flood damage was conservatively estimated at $250,000.
On Monday, numerous fans were placed in the areas of the Manor that had been affected.
"They're just drying everything out," Lori Foust, marketing director, said.
She had her own hair-raising experience with the storm.
Foust, who lives in Windfall, said she and her daughter, Katie, 24, of Canton, were coming back home from Philadelphia on Route 14 around 3 a.m. Thursday, and just before Ralston, they ran into some water on the road.
They were able to get to safety, but her new Hyundai Sonata was trapped in the water and they had to leave it. She said the vehicle became inundated.
"It just took seconds to fill up," she said. "It was unbelievable."
Foust said a young man who was just evacuated from his own home - along with his new puppy - was there and he tried to rescue the car by towing it, but was only able to move it by about 25 yards. She said he had to leave it because the waters were rising too rapidly. She said he was very nice and thanked him for helping.
As for the fate of the car, she said, "It filled it up with water, and then the water receded, and it was in the middle of the road."
She said the car is now in the hands of her insurance company and will be replaced. Currently, she is driving a rental car.
After their ordeal, Foust said she and her daughter went to the Trout Run Fire Hall on Thursday where people cared for them.
She said the whole experience was frightening. "It was like it really wasn't happening, I just can't explain it. We just had to react quickly, we had no choice. It's just amazing to me how dangerous flood waters are."
She said the water caught her by surprise. "It was just dark and it was just there," she said. "There was no warning at all, no signs posted or anything. I don't think anybody knew how fast this was happening." She added that one vehicle behind her was swept away by the flood waters. She added that they were listening to the news on the radio in the car, but she said the news was only dwelling on the situation in Binghamton, N.Y. - another reason they were caught by surprise.
"Just don't take flood waters for granted at all," Foust said. "Evacuate when you're told to. It's no big deal I lost a car, it just matters that my daughter was safe."
As for the Manor, Foust said 16 of the 34 residents who had to be moved to the third floor are expected to be back on the first floor by Thursday and the rest by the end of the week.
On Monday, the Manor was still under a boil water advisory and had brought in numerous jugs of drinking water for the residents, she said.
In addition to new furniture, Foust said molding strips, dry wall, and wardrobes for the rooms had to be reordered.
Meanwhile, in East Troy, the destruction could be seen on the grounds of Troy Elementary Center East, where Leonard Creek had substantially widened its banks after the storm had eroded a large area of ground. While Troy Area School District Maintenance Director David Blair said the water didn't enter the school and stopped right at the back door, he showed the large debris of rocks and trees scattered all over the school grounds by the flood waters. Among the casualties of the storm were a storage shed and two batting cages.
Troy Area School District Athletic Director Che Regina said, "Currently, the soccer fields at TECE are playable and will be used for events starting Wednesday, Sept. 14. Assessment of our other fields at the TECE facility is ongoing." He confirmed that there were some games that were postponed.
On nearby School House Drive in East Troy, residents were cleaning up as dust from the drying creek mud hung in the air over the road like a phantom. At one house, a pile of debris lay in a yard as if it were a mountain. A stench similar to the smell of a landfill was in the air.
Scott Warner, a co-owner of Warner Tractor and Equipment, Inc. in East Troy, recalled how he and his son, Ben, came to the aid of their neighbors after School House Drive which runs along Route 6 by the East Troy Bridge, became engulfed with water early Thursday.
After becoming aware of the flooding, Warner used a backhoe to rescue neighbors Denny Welch, his wife, and a houseguest. Ben Warner then used a backhoe to rescue about five members of the Nauta family and their pet. Also, Ben Warner, driving a long-armed piece of heavy equipment known as a telehandler, then rescued some other neighbors on the road, Molly Finnerty, Libby Welch Jones, and Jones' 2-year-old son. Scott Warner assisted him on this rescue.
Later, Gas Field Specialties, with an office in Troy, brought in two trash pumps to get rid of the water on School House Drive.
Shawn Castle, superintendent of the company, said he organized the effort to bring in the pump. "We could have worked that day, but we decided to help out the community," he said. They also pumped out basements in Leroy, East Canton, and Athens.
Others from the company involved in the effort were Tyrell Wheeler, Quintin Williams, an employee nicknamed "Marko," Cain Ellsworth, and Joe Wigglesworth. Randy Castle and Craig Castle from Principle Enterprises in Canton also helped.
Scott Warner said the water came from three places. In addition to Sugar Creek, he said it flowed down an embankment on the side of Mt. Pisgah Road and also from Leonard Creek. He thought the fact that gravel bars in the waterways weren't cleaned out made the flooding worse.
"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "(Hurricane) Agnes was kid's play, compared to this. It came up and went down quickly."
Down Route 6 in front of Julie's Country Kitchen near the Troy Borough line, the wrath of the storm could be seen. A substantial part of the road had been eroded away, leaving a jagged, treacherous edge. The road was blocked off with a detour set up.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org