In some Spring Township and Sinking Spring neighborhoods, residents say flooding was worst they’ve seen.
Berks County, PA â€”
William Koch Jr. watched with resignation Tuesday as a flatbed truck hauled a dumpster filled with family keepsakes from his driveway on Wilshire Boulevard in Spring Township.
Many other items, such as Koch’s college diploma, his grandfather’s Boy Scouts merit-badge sash and pictures from photo albums, were spread out to dry in his two-bay garage. A crib his wife, Allison, was saving for her first grandchild, was trashed.
Four days after a storm with a bull’s-eye over the Sinking Spring/West Lawn area dumped more than 5 inches of rain within a few hours, resulting in flash flooding – the likes of which many longtime residents had never seen – Koch and his neighbors were still cleaning up or waiting to meet with contractors and insurance agents.
In addition to stormwater that flowed like a river down Wilshire Boulevard toward Reedy Road, residents in the 400 through 600 blocks also had to contend with sewage that billowed from toilets and plumbing during Friday’s deluge.
For many residents, the three-day holiday weekend was a mixed blessing because they spent the time sorting through waterlogged items.
“A Labor Day I won’t forget,” Koch said.
In the 13 years Larry and Jennifer Haraschak have lived in the 600 block of Wilshire Boulevard, Friday marked the first time they’ve had a drop of water in their basement from a storm.
“For some of our neighbors – they’ve been here 20, 30 years – this was the first,” Larry Haraschak said. “And the people who got it the worst had a finished basement, because it came up through the sewer system.”
Haraschak, who works in Reading, said he got an urgent text from his wife Friday afternoon about 4:30 saying, “I need you home.” She also sent a photo to his cellphone showing sewage billowing from the toilet of their finished basement.
“When I got home I could not drive down the street,” Haraschak said. “I circled around and I came down here, and there was a car stuck in the middle of the street. I’ve never seen a car stuck in this street. That’s how high it was.
“We just started hauling stuff up and out. We had three sump pumps going, which is what I think is what saved our hot water heater and furnace.”
He called several restoration contractors, but none could come out until Sunday. He took the internet and found a company in Pottstown, Scavello Restorations & Home Remodeling, that was willing to send a crew to the neighborhood Saturday morning. Several neighbors also hired Scavello.
Meanwhile, numerous friends and family responded to Jennifer’s urgent call for help via Facebook.
“People were very nice and gracious, doing a bucket brigade at first until all of the sump pumps got set up,” Larry Haraschak said.
Their daughter was life-guarding a Wilson High School water polo tournament Friday when the storm arrived.
“They wouldn’t let them out at first because the water was up against the doors and coming under so they didn’t want to open the doors and have it come rushing in,” Haraschak said of the high school’s Lower House.
Wilson School District spokeswoman Karen L. Troutman confirmed Tuesday that the Lower House experienced water damage but no cost estimate was available.
“We had staff come in to clean on Saturday, and school resumed as usual today when students arrived back from the holiday,” she said.
Similar scenarios unfolded in many other neighborhoods, especially the area along Route 724, also known as Shillington Road, between Penn Avenue and Shakespeare Drive in Sinking Spring and Spring Township, said Thomas Bausher, coordinator for the West Side Emergency Management Agency.
“Sinking Spring seems to be the worst,” Bausher said, estimating that hundreds of homes between Sinking Spring and Spring Township had water damage to some degree.
Sinking Spring officials had two dumpsters placed at an empty lot at Penn and Cacoosing avenues over the weekend, Bausher said.
Both were filled almost immediately by residents disposing of water-damaged items. People continued to drop off trash there after the dumpsters were removed.
Bausher said some homeowners, especially those who live alone, still need help getting stuff out of their basements.
Adrian J. Grieve, executive director for the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter, said the nonprofit assisted about 30 people from eight families in Sinking Spring, Wyomissing and Spring Township.
For many homeowners, full recovery may be months away.
Larry Haraschak stayed home Tuesday to meet an insurance appraiser. The finished basement, which is the hangout place for the couple’s three teenagers, will have to be refurbished, and he doesn’t expect his insurance will cover anything close to the full cost.
“We’re not in a flood zone,” he said, “so we have the basic coverage, and you get a couple bucks back, but it’s not as much as you had hoped.”