SOUDERTON/PERKASIE — As the sun came up the day after the remnants of Hurricane Ida poured heavy rains and flash flooding throughout the area, people began to get a better look at what the storm had done and to work on cleaning up from it.
"Roads look to be in good shape so far but proceed with caution," Perkasie Borough posted on its Facebook page at 6:35 a.m. Sept. 2, updating its 7 p.m. Sept. 1 posting that had said there was "significant flooding," in the borough, urged residents to shelter in place and listed borough roads that were closed at the time, along with announcing that Covered Bridge Apartments were being evacuated.
Perkasie parks and trails "suffered significant debris and flood damage," and were closed, Perkasie said Sept. 2 on Facebook. Sellersville parks were also closed.
The South Perkasie Covered Bridge, which was moved to Lenape Park in 1958 and is normally on dry land, was pushed off its abutments by the overflowing East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek.
"The water was higher than it's ever been," Perkasie Borough Council member Randy Faulkner said while joining others checking on the bridge the morning of Sept. 2.
The bridge was also flooded last year, when the overflow hit its previous high, he said.
The bridge, originally built in 1832, is slated to be restored with a $100,000 state grant and a more than matching amount raised locally. Those plans were made before the flooding occurred.
"One of the recent debates was what are we gonna do about the abutments, do we need to raise it up?" Faulkner said. "I think we just answered that question."
In light of the flooding, the borough may also want to move the bridge to a place that is less likely to flood, he said.
1 death reported in Bucks
Every town in Bucks County was hit by the storm, county Director of Emergency Services Audrey Kenny said during a press conference Sept. 2 that was posted on Facebook.
"Some of the more hard hit areas included places like Sellersville, Perkasie, Quakertown, Doylestown, Buckingham. The mid-county area seemed to get a heavier rain load," she said.
Four to eight inches of rain fell on the county from the storm, with some places getting more than 10 inches, Bucks County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo said.
"Between 3 p.m. yesterday and dawn this morning, we took over 5,200 calls for assistance. On a normal day, we would get about 1,500," commissioners Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia said.
Kenny said there was "quite a bit going on in Perkasie and Sellersville for several hours last night."
The county tried to bring in additional help from Lower Bucks County, but was blocked by water on the roads, debris, downed trees and downed wires, so assistance was called in from outside the county or northern Bucks County, she said.
"County Line Road was affected. [Route] 309 was affected. Every main thoroughfare seemed to have challenges just trying to get help where it needed to go," Kenny said.
Other parts of Bucks County, particularly areas along the Delaware River, which had not yet crested, and the Neshaminy Creek still faced the onslaught of additional storm damage, the county officials said.
One person in Milford Township died as a result of the storm, the county officials said.
"As the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved through the region, the storm produced levels of flooding that many residents have not seen in their lifetime. Sellersville Fire Department volunteers stayed busy on Wednesday evening with many reported water rescues and reported dwelling fires, all while maintaining crowd control around the rushing flood waters. Several marine units from throughout the county ended up in Sellersville to assist with rescues and evacuations. The overwhelming amount of rainwater dealt our station a devastating blow, with over two feet of water through the entire building. Despite the mess, we remain ready to serve our friends and families in the Pennridge Community," Sellersville Fire Department posted on its website.
Pennridge School District and other local public schools were closed Sept. 2 in the aftermath of the flooding.
Operations staff did an "amazing job" in responding to the flooding and were continuing to do so, Pennridge School District Superintendent David Bolton said in answer to emailed questions.
"Fortunately, there was no significant damage to the building or classroom materials. We are confident that all spaces will be ready for school on Friday," Bolton wrote.
Transportation officials were re-routing buses to deal with roads that remained closed, he said.
The high school was being used by the Red Cross as an evacuation site, Bolton said.
"We will continue to support those efforts for as long as they are needed," he wrote.
Barbecue restaurant flooded
In Souderton, clean up work was beginning at Jesse's Barbecue & Local Market, which the night before had posted a picture on Facebook of the restaurant surrounded by water and the message to, "Pray for us!"
The flooding happened quickly, said Laura Sigmans, who with her husband, Jesse Sigmans, owns the business.
"We're kind of a low point here, so it, all of a sudden, there was nowhere for the water to go and it all came right to the low point, which is the restaurant," she said. "It went up to three feet inside the restaurant."
The restaurant was open at the time and when the flood hit the employees initially went to her neighboring home, Sigmans said.
The three smokers at the restaurant are safe, the restaurant said on its Facebook page the afternoon of Sept. 2, but said the building was being gutted and, "we will obviously be closed for a bit!"
Updates will continue to be made on the Facebook page.
"We are keenly aware that we are not the only ones who suffered loss in Ida; our thoughts + prayers go out to all of you! #wearesurvivors #wewillbeback #godisgoodallthetime," the posting concluded.
A GoFundMe page for Jesse's Barbecue & Local Market has been started at
https://gofund.me/26c9124a or by searching for "Save the Brisket."
Five hours after it was started, the page had raised more than $5,000 toward its $50,000 goal.