Hatboro and Horsham were not spared Hurricane Irene's wrath Saturday and early Sunday.
Both the borough and Horsham township crews were faced with downed trees and flooded roadways during the course of the storm.
Hatboro's shuttered Old Mill Inn was the scene of heavy flooding early Sunday morning. Hours after the flood waters had subsided, pieces of furniture from the closed eatery were strewn along the banks of the raging Pennypack Creek.
Hatboro, Horsham and Upper Moreland fire, police and EMS crews were busy rescuing people who were stranded in the the Robert Bruce Apartment complex early Sunday morning after waters trapped them inside.
Hatboro seemed to take the brunt of Hurricane Irene’s pummeling Saturday night into Sunday morning. Just next door, in Horsham, officials said 13 people had to be rescued and moved to shelter.
Borough Manager Steven Plaugher said first responders helped to evacuate “numerous” Hatboro residents.
“The call volume was so much they were not able to get names,” Plaugher said.
Even without names, Plaugher shared a “miracle” rescue of a family – with an infant in tow – who fled the oft-flooded Woodwinds development as the Pennypack Creek nearly carried the wife and mother away.
“The mother got swept away by the water. The water was up into the parking lot,” Plaugher said of the rescue, which happened just before midnight. “She was actually carried downstream a couple hundred yards.”
Luckily, the water pushed her aside and she was able to climb out, Plaugher said.
“The husband was able to hold onto the baby. That’s a miracle,” he said. “Our emergency responders were on the scene at the time. The husband was going to go into the water after her.
A few hours later, a handful of firefighters from Enterprise Fire Company experienced difficulties rescuing a driver, including their boat tipping over, Plaugher said. First responders had been called to assist in the rescue of several people, including four firefighters, after they became stranded in rushing water on Davisville Road.
“They couldn’t see the guardrail because it was covered by water. They were able to bail out the raft and keep going,” he said. “They made it to where the driver was trapped and got him rescued.”
The driver, who was alleged to have been under the influence of alcohol, may be charged with DUI, as well charges for recklessly endangering another person.
“We’re extremely proud of our fire, police and public works departments for the excellent job they did,” Plaugher said. “They put their lives on the line last night dealing in very difficult conditions in order to protect everyone who lives in Hatboro. They did an excellent job.”
In the flood aftermath, Plaugher said officials will work through Tuesday completing a full assessment of public and private property damage in hopes of receiving reimbursement for police and public works overtime, as well as possible funding for uninsured private properties.
To do this as accurately as possible, Hatboro is seeking help from residents. Plaugher said any resident that sustained property damage should contact borough hall at 215-443-9100 so officials can include the information in a damage report.
So far, the damage to public property includes “heavy damage” to Eaton Park, as well as the park located behind Hatboro Memorial Pool. Parts of the asphalt parking lot were broken up and moved downstream. And the pool, which sits adjacent to a creek, is filled with mud and will be closed for the remainder of the season, which would have ended on Labor Day.
“We would not be able to get it cleaned up and back open again,” Plaugher said.
Initial assessments show water damage at the police station, Plaugher said. Chief James Gardner had told Patch previously that the antiquated building’s roof had leaks in it.
To help residents in cleanup efforts, the borough is offering bulk trash pickups – free of charge – Monday and Tuesday. Residents should put out items on the curbside on their normal pickup day, he said.
PECO representatives have not yet said how many in Hatboro and Horsham are without power. As of late Sunday morning, about 150 Horsham residents were without power, according to Emergency Management Coordinator George Fida.
Fida, along with emergency crews throughout the region, worked overnight to close roads and rescue evacuees.
“I thought it was a lot better than anticipated,” Fida said. “We’re still surveying it, but I think we fared well.”
The storm hit its peak in Horsham between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., Saturday into Sunday, Fida said, adding that the Horsham Township Community Center was opened to house evacuees unable to make it to Cheltenham High School in Wyncote. Of those rescued, Fida said six were from vehicles which shouldn’t have been driven as Hurricane Irene pummeled the region. A family of five from the oft-flooded Robert Bruce Apartments in Hatboro took shelter in Horsham and a couple from Lansdale traveling to Hatboro with their two dogs was welcomed as well, he said.