Friday deluge in Greencastle-Antrim disrupts weekend for many

PAT FRIDGEN
Elijah Barrett, 2, splashed through water that filled the driveway at an Antrim Township residence. The water had already subsided by a foot, as indicated on the garage door. The tot and his parents, Dan and Carol Barrett, were helping friends assess the damage once the rain stopped and the sun reappeared Friday evening.

People will have stories to tell for a long time about the deluge on Friday evening, Sept. 9. For several hours the rain fell, soaking an already saturated landscape. Within minutes, Greencastle and Antrim Township residents with no or minimal water problems in the past had water in the basement, and homes resembling islands. Those already used to fighting water had one of their biggest battles ever. In many reported cases, the sump pumps just couldn’t keep up. Those who stayed dry were counting their lucky stars.

Local stormchaser Zac Brisko said 3.41 inches of rain fell Friday, making the total 8.08 inches since Sunday, Sept. 4.

“Hopefully, that’s it,” he said as blue skies returned about 7 p.m. on the north side of town. The heaviest remnant of Tropical Storm Lee had passed through two hours earlier.

Borough manager Kenneth Womack had left town just before the precipitation began, but said, “It rained hard and flooded big.” The street crews were dispatched to set up roadblocks, particularly in The Orchards area. Most streets had some high water, but it receded quickly once the rain stopped. Washington Street was the detour for U.S. 11 north, because the underpass was full of water. Greencastle police officer Greg Pritchard directed traffic at the Baltimore Street intersection, though the lights were still working. PennDOT employees in chest deep water were seen clearing the drains under the railroad tracks. The underpass on West Baltimore Street also had standing water for a while.

Greencastle sewer plant chief operator Kevin Hunsberger recorded 9.12 inches of rain at the facility on Grant Shook Road from Sept. 4 to 10.

Antrim Township crews were called back to work shortly after their normal workday ended. Administrator Brad Graham and road foreman Will Trostle had stayed on in anticipation of side effects from the rain. The employees set out ‘road closed’ and ‘high water’ signs and cones, patrolling the township until about 11 p.m. They were back in on Saturday for cleanup.

Several roads sustained damage, including Coldspring, Sportsmans, and Enoch Brown. Graham said quite a bit of labor would be necessary to repair the erosion on the shoulders. When water ran over roads to drainage outlets on the other sides, the force of the water washed out channels. The box culvert near the borough sewer plant ws hit hard, with the rocks on the banks dislodged. Graham wanted to find the best option for relining the outlet.

The Rescue Hose Company responded to at least 24 incidents. Fire chief Kevin Barnes was grateful to True Value Hardware, which opened its doors after hours to access sump pumps, which the RHC loaned to residents to get control of their unwanted water.

Very wet

The new Kaley Field was inaugurated by the heavy rain as Greencastle-Antrim hosted New Oxford in the first game on the artificial surface. The rain had stopped by the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, however rain filled the track that is still under construction and water reached nearly to the football lines of the artificial turf. It had mostly receded by gametime, however some spectators had to traverse a makeshift bridge over the track to reach the bleachers.

The home side entrance could not be used because of standing water in that area. Dr. Greg Hoover, district superintendent, said the home side entrance area is where a new drainage system had been installed for the field. The sheer volume of water slowed drainage, but the field did eventually drain. Puddles remained throughout the game near the edges and especially at the corners of the artificial surface.

While some citizens went to the football game, others were cleaning up on the home front. Maggie and Terry Knode, 162 Addison St., pulled basement carpet outside. Within 15 minutes, they had received two inches of water that flowed over cinder block through an old coal chute several feet above the ground.

When Maggie heard the sump pump kick in, she went downstairs to investigate. It was too late. They hauled out the wet vac. She noted that the water was unexpected, especially since the Allison Street improvement project several years ago had help control runoff. "I never thought it would happen again.”

Rachel and Justin Nowell, 436 Colonial Drive, were dismayed when the driveway of their split level home filled with two feet of water in 15 minutes. That meant their finished basement did too. It was quite a change from the quarter-inch of water they saw in the driveway at 4:30.

Neighbor Ann Swope, at 410 Colonial, thought a similar deluge that occurred for the former owners would never happen to her. At 5 p.m. she could barely see water in the grass. Twenty minutes later she heard water rushing into the unfinished basement. The pump couldn’t keep up, resulting in six inches indoors. When Swope looked out the lower level window, “it was like looking into an aquarium.”

Another woman up the street delayed leaving for the night until the storm passed. She was happy she did, as she had some water, the first time in 28 years.

Some people were able to enjoy the overload of water. Teenagers swam, tubed and kayaked in places, not troubled by the work that lay ahead for so many residents.

Joyce F. Nowell also contributed to this article.

Water gushed from a neighborhood into a storm drain on Williamson Avenue. Earlier on Sept. 9 water covered the street too, and motorists took their chances driving through it.