Friday, July 03, 2020


 See this weeks print edition  

for these stories:

  • Area Bowling Results





News Article
Return to Previous Page

Torrential Downpour Wreaks Havoc
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

Firefighters lead a woman to safety after having rescued her from her SUV after it 

was swept off Wasser Road where it cross the Macoby Creek in Upper Hanover


See our Photos section for more images


            Kathy Hollingsworth woke up around 6 p.m. to an emergency alert on her cell phone. After noticing that the power wasn't working, she spotted water surrounding her house. Within 15 minutes, panic set in.

            "Everything was underwater," she said.

            After handing off her 10-year-old son to a family friend, Hollingsworth and her 18-year-old son climbed out a second story window onto the roof above the back porch of their home in Green Lane Borough and waited to be rescued by firefighters.

            Kathy and her husband Kelly, and their family, avoided injury during the torrential downpour and related flooding on Thursday, July 11. However, they will likely continue to deal with the impact for weeks. The overtopping of the Macoby Creek caused most of their driveway to collapse. The rushing water left only a hole, measuring nine feet deep and 25 feet wide, filled with blacktop, water and heating oil. The damage may have also compromised the structural integrity of the twin home, located in the 700 block of Lumber Street next to the creek.

            Six inches of rain in approximately two hours damaged private and public property throughout the Upper Perkiomen Valley. Most of the damage occurred along the Macoby Creek, which starts in Lower Milford Township in Lehigh County – and runs through Upper Hanover and Marlborough townships – before emptying into the Perkiomen Creek in Green Lane.

            Lynn Wolfe, mayor of Green Lane, described the incident as a flash flood. Heavy rains caused the creek to rise and overflow its banks within minutes.

            "You can't predict where it's going to happen," Wolfe said. "This was a significant storm."

            Emergency responders rescued 12 people from homes on Lumber Street using boats from the Red Hill, Jeffersonville, and Upper Salford fire companies, according to Tom Huguenin, Jr., deputy chief of the Green Lane Fire Company. He said approximately 25 people from that area were left homeless.

            In addition to the companies named above, Huguenin also thanked the East Greenville and Pennsburg Fire Companies, along with the Upper Perkiomen and Harleysville Area emergency medical services for their assistance at the Lumber Street incident. 

            Early Friday morning, seven of those families registered for assistance with the American Red Cross at the Green Lane Fire Company, according to the mayor. Green Lane fire fighters responded to 12 flood-related incidents. First responders from East Greenville and Pennsburg also assisted at the Lumber Street location.

            The Hollingsworths, who have lived next to the Macoby Creek near the Marlborough border since 2004 and have flood insurance, described the waterway as a recreational benefit. Their children have utilized it for swimming and fishing in the summer and ice skating during the winter.

            However, last week, when the creek overflowed its banks, the family was forced to cope with six to eight inches of water on their first floor. Outside, flood waters 3 ½ feet tall pounded the walls and flowed towards the street. Besides eroding most of the driveway near the bridge on Lumber Street, the current knocked out a post holding up the front porch.

            According to Matt Giuliano, who lives in the other side of the twin, the water washed out his garden, deck and hot tub. He said the flooding left an inch of water on his first floor and forced him to throw away $1,000 worth of wood stored in his basement.

            Giuliano, who has lived in the house for 13 years, said that the Macoby Creek ran over its banks twice in that time period. He said the most recent time it flowed between the house and bridge, over Lumber Street, towards the creek.

            Giuliano expressed concerns about the foundational and structural issues of his home. He was expecting to meet with a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

            The Hollingsworths and Giuliano won't know about structural damage to their residences for approximately five weeks, when a flood insurance adjustor is expected to release a report, according to Wolfe. She described the duplex, along with an apartment building and apartment complex near the intersection of Lumber Street and Gravel Pike, as the most impacted residential properties in the borough.

            The mayor also said multiple businesses, such as Young's Oil, were impacted and are still in cleanup mode. According to Wolfe, flooding damaged some artifacts at the Goschenhoppen Historical Society headquarters in Red Men's Hall on Gravel Pike.

            Flooding at properties at Lumber Street and Gravel Pike made all nine residences inhabitable, according to the mayor. She said the residents will be allowed to return in three months.

            Wolfe noted that the landlord has returned the security deposit and July's rents to the residents to help them find alternative housing. She said all nine families have registered with the American Red Cross. Multiple civic organizations have stepped up to help, according to the mayor.

            "We're making progress every day," Wolfe said Tuesday afternoon. "We're trying to get roads back open and help the people in need. The residents are doing their part."

            At a residence near the intersection of E. Hendricks and Graber roads in Upper Hanover, Andy and Kristy Curtis watched the Macoby Creek overflow its banks at 5:36 p.m. Thursday and fill the back field behind their house. Within nine minutes, water was around the front of the house and the driveway was impassable.  By 6:10 p.m., the water was a foot deep on the four-acre property. Kristy Curtis could see floating blacktop.       

            She said the storm, which deposited five feet of water in the basement of the residence, located in the 1300 block of E. Hendricks Road, damaged the septic system, central air and heating systems as well as the living room and dining room.

            The wind and heavy rain also shifted a shed 35 to 40 feet. The couple found it resting against a carriage house built more than 100 years ago.

            "I never expected a flood of this degree," said Andy Curtis, who has lived there with his family for five years. He said multiple neighbors told him this storm was more impactful than Hurricane Agnes, which struck in June of 1972.

            The following afternoon, Andy and Kristy Curtis and their three children were already several hours into the cleanup of their property. Andy Curtis estimated that the process would take several weeks.

            On a lower deck, which remained structurally sound, the family set up two piles of items.  According to Andy Curtis, the family will have to go through each item and decide what can be salvaged as part of its flood insurance claim. He said the experience hasn't changed his opinion about living next to a creek. So far.

            "I'm not there yet," Andy Curtis said regarding a potential move. "If you come back the next time we have a storm like this, I might have a different opinion. You've got to respect the power of water."

            Further upstream, where the creek is not as wide, the heavy rain forced flooding around the home of George and Shirley Berbaum in the 2500 block of Wasser Road. Around 5:30 p.m., Shirley Berbaum said she noticed that the backyard was transformed into a "dirty pond."

            According to George Berbaum, the storm left six inches of water in the basement, caused water to bubble over a toilet and shifted a shed ramp to the opposite end of the yard.

            "We've been here more than 50 years, and it's never been this bad," he said.

            The water moved the rear end of a Kia SUV, parked in the driveway, 15 to 20 inches. The waterlogged vehicle had debris in the wheel wells above the tires.

            Firefighters had to rescue a motorist during the storm in front of the Berbaum's home after the torrent of water engulfed an SUV, stalling it and trapping the driver.

            Elsewhere in Upper Hanover, several bridges were damaged. Montgomery County officials closed the 11th Street bridge due to buckled asphalt approaching the structure.

            Municipal officials completed temporary asphalt repairs at the Mack Road bridge, Otts Road bridge and Wasser Road bridge. Asphalt approaching the East Buck Road bridge above Geryville Pike has been repaired, according to Stan Seitzinger, Jr., the township's manager. He wrote in an email message that all four structures have been opened.

            Township crews are working on both approaches to the stone arch bridge on 11th Street and the Mack Road bridge, according to the manager. He wrote that the 11th Street bridge should be cleared and paved by Wednesday and that the county must inspect the structure before it is reopened to traffic.

            An initial inspection of the Hendricks Road bridge did not indicate any major structural damage, according to Seitzinger. He wrote that municipal crews are planning to remove a portion of damaged asphalt on the bridge deck this week to get a better look inside the bridge.

            In Marlborough, the flooding forced the closure of the Price Road, Lumber Street and Miller Road bridges, according to township manager Marybeth Cody. She said the Miller Road bridge was quickly reopened after state officials completed asphalt repair.

            In Pennsburg, eight residents of the 300 block of Washington Street had water in their basements from the storm. The amounts ranged from a few inches to eight feet, according to Mayor Vicki Lightcap. She said four residents lost their electricity for a day. A dog in a crate in one of the homes on heavily inundated Washington Street drowned.

            The street resembled a river, according to the mayor. She said the water was coming out of manholes.

            "It had nowhere to go," Lightcap said.

            In East Greenville, Third Street was closed briefly due to flooding, according to borough Manager Jim Fry. He wrote in an email that there was no damage.





Join our Business Directory today and get the introductory rate for a full year.
Click Here.


Home Editorial
News Photos
Sports Business Directory
Obituaries Classified Ads
Calendar Contact Us
  Advertise with the Town & Country... It's the weekly paper that people read, not just look at!  Click here to learn more or sign up.   Serving the municipalities of Bally, East Greenville, Green Lane, Hereford, Lower Salford, Marlborough, Milford, New Hanover, Pennsburg, Red Hill, Trumbauersville, Upper Hanover, Upper Salford
The Town & Country is now available at 64 locations throughout the region! Pick up your copy at any of the locations here, or better yet, have it delivered directly to your mailbox!  Click here to subscribe.

Local News for Local Readers since 1899.
© Copyright 2009 and Terms of Use
Site Design by Bergey Creative Group