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Perkiomenville, Schwenksville Men Die in Storm
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

Hurricane remnants wallop the area


            A Perkiomenville man died last week in flood waters created by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

            Donald A. Bauer, 65, drowned in his vehicle after driving into flood waters from the Unami Creek in Milford Township.

            Before succumbing, Bauer helped his wife Katherine climb through a busted back windshield, according to an Associated Press story filed two days later.

            The state police were dispatched to 1925 Trumbauersville Road at 11:16 p.m. on Sept. 1 for a missing person report but were forced to postpone the search due to severe conditions.

            Emergency responders discovered his body the following morning around 6 a.m., according to a public information release report.

            Katherine Bauer was transported to St. Luke's Upper Bucks campus, according to the state police. Clinging to a tree after escaping the car, she watched the rising waters carry their Mazda SUV out of sight, according to the wire story filed Sept. 3.

            A graduate of Pottstown High School, Donald Bauer had several careers. He worked in a factory and as a landscaper and woodworker. For the last 15 years, he drove a school bus for Quigley Bus Company in the Boyertown Area School District.

            Craig Messinger, 70, of Schwenksville, was found dead in Skippack Township on Sept. 2. An autopsy determined his cause of death as drowning, according to information provided by the Montgomery County Communications office.

            A Souderton man attempting to get home found himself in a life-threatening position along the Unami Creek in Marlborough Township. However, he was able to escape with his life.

            Between 9:30 and 10 p.m. on Sept. 1, Brian Fountain was driving west on Swamp Creek Pike during the torrential downpour when he noticed water rising to the bottom of the windows of his Jeep.

            After the vehicle stalled out, Fountain waited five minutes before climbing out. He said a Swamp Creek Road resident coached him up the driveway to his front porch.

            "I almost had to swim to the house," said Fountain, who was transported to the Green Lane Fire Company by emergency responders. "It was pretty scary."

            Just before noon the following day, he returned to the scene of the incident to arrange to have his vehicle towed away. Fountain found it resting along the banks of the creek, leaning toward the water, and pointing in the opposite direction.  "I expect to have to scrap it," he said. "But I'm going to try to get it fixed."

            The remnants of Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc for residents throughout the Upper Perkiomen valley. However, Marlborough and Green Lane borough appeared to absorb the worst damage.

            Police Chief Darren Morgan said this was the worst he's ever seen flood waters in the township in his 22 years with the department. According to Morgan, rising creek waters, which crested between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Thursday, flooded property on Gravel Pike from Upper Ridge to Snyder roads.

            The police chief said water flowed over the guardrails at the intersection of Zepp Road and Route 63. Emergency responders conducted six water rescues in Marlborough, according to Township Police Officer Andrew Curtis.

            Around 11:05 a.m. Thursday, Marlborough Township police were called to a property near the intersection of Upper Ridge Road and Gravel Pike for the report of a car in the Perkiomen Creek. Emergency responders discovered that the red vehicle, submerged to the windows, was unoccupied. The following day, officers determined the vehicle had been parked at a neighboring property.

            A one-lane bridge over the Unami Creek near Wetzel Mill, at the intersection of Swamp Creek and Magazine roads, absorbed significant damage. Rampaging water and heavy winds ripped up a significant amount of the macadam and shifted the road surface in the direction of downstream.

            The Price Road bridge over the Unami Creek suffered severe damage. One the bridge's two archways partially collapsed. A wall on the west side of the structure is gone.

            A wall on the Swamp Creek road bridge, located in the eastern portion of the township over the Unami Creek near the intersection of White's Mill Road, partially collapsed. The bridge's south side approach also absorbed severe damage.

            All three structures, along with a new bridge near the intersection of Upper Ridge and Trumbauersville roads due to damage to the roadway approach, remain closed Tuesday, according to township Manager Marybeth Cody.

            At noon on Thursday, a crew from Yarnall Paving, of Upper Hanover, began emergency repairs on the Hendricks Road Bridge. Crews worked to remove 200 feet of blacktop on one side of the structure damaged by heavy rain.  "Third time in three years," one worker said.

            In Green Lane, heavy winds and rain knocked out the electricity for the entire borough. Properties on Lumber Street and Gravel Pike absorbed the greatest impact from flood water, according to Mayor Lynn Wolfe.

            "Borough residents take a lot of pride in the work we do," said Wolfe, who added that no injuries were reported in the municipality. "To see the level of destruction of property that occurred is difficult to process."

            Though electricity for a majority of residents was restored by Saturday, borough residents again find themselves in the routine cleaning up, according to the mayor. She said 100-year storms have become an annual event. "I think the good Lord is telling us to purge more," Wolfe said.

            At the intersection of East Buck and Frye roads in Upper Hanover, Stacey Kolb worked to remove a minivan stuck with its front end stuck in the mud. The tow truck driver said he received between six and 12 calls from distressed drivers.

            "It's been crazy," said Kolb, a Pennsburg resident who's been working as a tow truck operator for 32 years. "I knew we were going to get hammered."

            In Douglass Township, the Gilbertsville Fire Company Station 67 responded to four water rescues. Swift Water Rescue crews pulled out five occupants, according to information posted on its Facebook page.

            Keystone Water Rescue of Boyertown assisted on two of those incidents. Boyertown Area Fire and Rescue delivered one assist. Between 4 p.m. and midnight, 21 volunteers provided emergency response coverage for Station 67.

            The New Hanover Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services conducted more than a dozen water rescues during the storm. The company's Facebook page praises the "strong work" of the township's police and public works department.

            Due to the severity of the damage from this storm, Montgomery County officials have issued a disaster declaration, which will allow its residents to collect any potential subsequent reimbursement for storm-related response and damage.

            The county's Department of Public Safety's Emergency Communications Center answered 6,538 calls for assistance between 11 a.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. on Thursday, which is approximately three times the number of calls received during a typical 24-hour period. Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, calls peaked at 1,067. More than 452 water rescues were dispatched during the storm, many of which involved the rescue of multiple individuals, according to the email message.

            The National Weather Service determined that an EF-2 tornado with winds of up to 130 miles per hour touched down in Upper Dublin Township and Horsham Township.  
            The Montgomery County Department of Public Safety received 1,283 reports of damage as of 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4.

            Between 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday, Quakertown Fire Company Number 1 handled numerous calls for service. They included stranded motorists in high water, water rescues, evacuating homes, EMS assist, gas/oil smells in homes, electrical issues in homes, pump details and checking basements due to the flooding, according to its Facebook page. 

            From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Montgomery County will operate a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) for residents affected by Hurricane Ida at 2 W. Lafayette Street in Norristown. Residents will have access to representatives from non-profit disaster relief organizations, municipal, county, and state emergency management agencies as well as officials from various county and state government human services agencies. Masks are required for anyone entering the building.







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