DARBY BOROUGH >> Fifteen homes sustained damages and another four properties in the borough were deemed “affected” during Monday’s flash-flooding event, according to initial assessments conducted Tuesday by the county.
County emergency workers spent about three hours conducting initial damages assessments, information that will be forwarded to Harrisburg. No properties were found to have been destroyed, Emergency Services Director Tim Boyce said Tuesday night.
Properties that were deemed damaged, defined as requiring substantial repairs, or affected, defined as requiring some repairs, are located in the 900 block of Springfield Road, the 700 block of Pine Street and the unit block of 13th Street.
“Some of the properties have experienced serious flooding over the course of history,” Boyce said.
Clean-up efforts were ongoing at Fibbers Suds & Soda in the 100 block of MacDade Boulevard, which had 4 feet of water inside at the height of the storm, as well as at Best Quality Tires.
But overall, 24 hours after torrential rains flooded some roadways and chased some residents from their homes, the borough seemingly was back to normal late Tuesday afternoon.
Dubbed “ground zero” as the hardest hit was the 900 block of Springfield Road, between MacDade Boulevard and Main Street. It belied the forces of Mother Nature that resulted in dramatic water rescues when the Darby Creek crested over its banks - with the exception of one man who was busy power-washing mud off of a concrete driveway.
A few apartment dwellers on the block reportedly were among those evacuated when borough officials declared a state of emergency shortly before 4 p.m. While the American Red Cross provided shelter at borough hall, borough Manager Mark Possenti said Tuesday that very few people required assistance.
The evacuation center, which opened around noon, closed around 5 p.m. Monday, he said.
Authorities said Tuesday that 11 individuals from four families were ultimately taken to the Red Cross House in Philadelphia, and one animal was being cared for by Red Paws.
Hazel Coles told Channel 6 Action News that her apartment sustained damages. Beds and other furniture were ruined, but she was able to salvage a tricycle for a nephews and personal items including a jewelry box.
Coles told the TV station that she is staying at the Red Cross House and was not planning to return to her Darby apartment.
Shortly before noon on Monday, Darby Fire Co. No. 1 posted photographs on Facebook depicting water rescues. The post urged motorists to use caution in the area of MacDade Boulevard and Springfield Road, Chester Pike and Springfield Road, and Walnut and Mill streets.
One image was of a ladder truck being used to rescue people from the 900 block of Springfield Road.
While the borough had been hard hit by floods in previous years, demolition of properties post-Hurricane Floyd alleviated a large part of a years-old problem, according to Paula Brown, a longtime borough resident and former mayor.
Brown was mayor when Hurricane Floyd struck in 1999, taking one life, damaging 330 homes and 59 businesses in Darby Borough alone, according to Daily Times archives. A year later, dozens of homes and buildings were torn down, either because of storm damage or because of the mold that grew in them afterwards, sickening many residents. Many of those locations were deemed “hazard mitigation” properties by the federal government, meaning that nothing, not even a parking lot, can be built where those homes once stood.
– ROSE QUINN