Richard Kramer thought he’d dodged the flood bullet Tuesday, Aug. 4, at his home along the banks of Maiden Creek in Greenwich Township.
Then came the surge from upstream, and Kramer watched helplessly as the water encircled his compound along Long Road, just on the other side of the new Zettlemoyer’s Bridge.
Before it crested around 10 p.m., the raging floodwaters from Tropical Storm Isaias claimed one of his cars, damaged a newly laid macadam driveway and washed away part of the foundation on his garage.
“We just became part of the creek,” Kramer, a retired captain of a fireboat with the Philadelphia Fire Department said Aug. 5. “Tools and some of our keepsakes are now part of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.”
Kramer was thankful, however, that his house was not damaged and that no one was injured or worse.
In the 13 years he’s lived in what’s normally a picturesque enclave, there have been occasional floods. But nothing quite like what happened Aug. 4.
“This was different than anything I’ve seen,” Kramer said. “The water came with such force.”
Kramer’s observation was echoed by Mark Richards, Virginville fire chief.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen in Richmond Township, other than Tropical Storm Agnes,” he said. “I talked to Virginville residents who said they’ve never seen it like this before.”
Saucony Creek spilled onto Crystal Cave and Saucony roads, stranding residents in their homes and blocking access to rescue crews. Fortunately, the homes were on high ground and not in immediate danger.
In their efforts to respond to numerous water rescues, flooded basements and structure inspections, Virginville volunteer firefighters were hampered by roadways inundated with water or made impassable by fallen trees.
Virginville firefighters got to a structure on fire Tuesday morning, Aug. 4, but the water rose so quickly they couldn’t get back to the fire station.
“It took them two hours to go seven miles because of blocked roadways,” Richards said.
Virginville firefighters, as did so many other volunteer units, did yeoman’s work throughout the day, Richards said. But he reserved particularly high praise for dispatchers who handled non-stop emergency calls throughout the day at the Berks County Communications Center.
High water from Maiden Creek is not exactly a stranger to Ron and Kathleen Ferrizzi, who live opposite the creek on Dreibelbis Station Road.
Their raised rancher, which is maybe 40 yards back from the creek on the far side of the roadway, was built with flooding in mind. The above-ground basement has reinforced concrete walls and the living quarters are easily eight or so feet above the water level.
A few years back, 5.5 inches of rain pushed floodwaters to within 18 inches of the garage door in the basement.
On Aug. 4, Isaias infused floodwaters breached the garage door and implanted 18 inches of water in the basement. Not even sand bags, which the Ferrizzis bought for just such an occasion, could stop the surge.
"One of those 2020 events"
The Ferrizzis, retired Philadelphia picture frame crafters who’ve lived on Dreibelbis Station Road for seven years, pulled a pickup truck full of furnishings and other items from the basement on Wednesday morning, Aug. 5. They managed to save collectibles, which were drying in their front yard. A couple of metal heron sculptures on the banks of Maiden Creek survived, but at one point only their graceful heads were above water.
Ferrizzi, a Vietnam veteran who appeared in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, “The Vietnam War,” was cautiously concerned about the flooding.
He wondered if it was a sign of global warming, and if there would be more incidents like it in the future.
On the other hand, he mused, “Guess this is another one of those 2020 events.”