This weekend, the residents of Coatesville, Chester County, were cleaning up, removing belongings from their flooded homes. The sidewalks on Fifth and nearby streets were filled with wet clothing and muddy furniture. Workers were stripping the inside walls of their homes and piling beams and drywall into in large trash bins. A backhoe was scraping up the trash into a dumpster.
This is the second time this summer this neighborhood has suffered from flooding – but not anything like last Wednesday. This neighborhood is at the bottom of one of the rolling hills of the town. Around it, the streets rise, creating a giant basin for flood water draining down the hills.
Wednesday, water was rising so quickly, it was too late for many to evacuate. Some went to the roof of their homes, until the next morning when a boat of city first responders rescued them.
Donald Folks, Coatesville Council Person, was busy contacting each person in the street to determine their needs.
"They don’t want to lose their homes! Right now, they just need water and a hot shower.” Then he pointed to a nearby house. “The residents, stranded on the roof of this house, were recovered by boat! Many waded through the water, and even swam, to get to dry land.” Folks just shook his head, "This is an unprecedented event!”
Red Cross volunteers Danelle Stoppel and Corey Stradling were comforting people, while assessing the extensive damage caused by the flood. The Salvation Army had set up a canteen, feeding the residents and workers.
Up the hill, Nicole Hudock was standing in her yard, surrounded by boxes of wet clothing. Her home was at a higher level, but her basement was completely flooded, destroying water heater, washer and dryer, clothing and articles stored there.
“I’ve never seen it this is bad,” she said.
She heard the warnings of the flash flooding and rushed home from her job, about 3 pm. Water was gushing out of the drain where her son’s car was parked.
“I went to the supermarket to grab a few things. By 6:30 the water was a river. I watched trashcans floating by! The basement was flooding; the firefighters came to shut off the gas," she said.
That night, neighbors collected at her house for safety.
In the small community of Modena, flash flooding washed out the foundation of houses and apartments. A row of 12 apartments was declared unsafe and dangerous for habitation. The deck of one was ripped off the foundation and found broken in a nearby tree. Children’s bicycles and outdoor furniture were stacked against the building.
After the storm, the Red Cross surveyed the damage – the apartments abandoned, and backyards peaceful with green grass and trees.