Heavy rainfall on Friday, Aug. 3 lead to early morning flooding on Saturday, Aug. 4. Saucony Creek crested its banks and flooded nearby roadways, school property, and the pool. Kutztown Borough declared a disaster due to flooding.
Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel and Kutztown Emergency Management Director Tom Russo declared a disaster emergency Saturday morning on Greenwich Street where there was flooding.
“By declaring they can kick in their flood insurances and if we need other resources without going through a bidding process, but I don’t think that’s going to be necessary,” said Schlegel. “Things were handled pretty well.”
Kutztown Borough closed Greenwich Street between Peach Street and Wentz Street. Normal Avenue was closed between Willow Street and Constitution.
“It flooded in different places. The worst was on Greenwich Street, as far as affecting any residential areas,” said Schlegel. “I can go all the way back to 1954 when Hurricane Hazel came through and Greenwich Street got flooded. In 1972 Agnes flooded Greenwich Street and in 2011 Hurricane Irene flooded Greenwich Street. It’s a shame but there’s really nothing you can do about it. It’s a flood plain. The other area that flooded was over by the elementary school and the two apartment buildings.”
Saucony Creek flooded its banks behind Camillo’s Italian Restaurant on Greenwich Street, delaying the restaurant’s opening that day.
A resident was even observed floating down Greenwich Street in a kayak, according to a photo posted on Facebook.
The Saucony Commons Apartment complex on Normal Avenue was engulphed in flood waters and the Kutztown High School athletic practice fields were covered with flood water, according to Kutztown photographer Dennis Krumanocker, who shared photos taken that Saturday morning.
Flood waters surrounded the Kutztown Community Pool. While the flood waters did not penetrate the pool itself, it did flood the pump house.
According to a Kutztown Borough Swimming Pool Facebook post, the pool will be shut down indefinitely. The pool pumps were submerged and have to be pulled and sent out to be serviced.
“One thing I do want to say is that the emergency crews, the fire companies - and it was more than Kutztown (responding), Lyons came in and helped - they did a really great job helping the situation along, pumping water out of basements and such,” said Schlegel. “They’re to be patted on the back. They’re all volunteers and a lot of people don’t realize that.”
Neighboring boroughs also reported flooded roadways and basements, including Fleetwood and beyond.
Fleetwood Fire Company reported on Facebook on Aug. 4 at 10:26 a.m. that crews had been out since 3:30 a.m. that morning attending to different problem areas in the borough, especially around the railroad and Linden Street. The post thanked Walnuttown Fire Co. and Lyons fire police for their assistance.
Northern Berks Regional Police Department reported on Facebook a Flooded Roadway update as of Sunday Aug. 5 at 8:30 p.m. Both Leesport Avenue (State Route 1004) and East Huller Lane (State Route 4032) in Ontelaunee Township closed due to flood waters. Pictures showed permanent signs and temporary signs warning of “roadways subject to flooding” and “roadway closed,” as well as a photo of the flood water flowing over the roadway. Police inform the public to find alternate routes.
The rain on Friday also postponed the previously scheduled Aug. 3 Dinner on Main in Kutztown. The flood waters did not affect Kutztown Community Partnership from being able to hold the event on Saturday night, Aug. 4. Look for coverage next issue.