PERKASIE — The first thing at Perkasie Borough Council's Sept. 7 meeting was a thank you by council President Jim Ryder to a lengthy list of community groups, businesses, borough employees, first responders and organizations that helped out during and in the aftermath of the flash flooding that hit the area Sept. 1.
During the public comment, resident Lauren Pareti asked for assistance to help residents of the Covered Bridge Apartments, where the 30 first floor apartments in the three-story buildings were flooded.
"Many of our neighbors who call Covered Bridge Apartments home are low income. Some are elderly, disabled and vulnerable. They lost nearly everything," she said.
"They are now effectively homeless," she said. "Some have returned to filthy, moldy wet apartments. Others are using their last dollars to stay at a hotel."
Along with providing immediate assistance for those whose apartments were flooded, more should be done in the future to alert residents to the dangers of flooding and to provide information about evacuation shelters, she said. It's important that people be able to take their pets along to the shelters, she said.
"Without pet-friendly sheltering options, people will stay in dangerous situations, putting themselves and our first responders at risk," Pareti said.
Many people consider their pets as part of the family, she said.
Pareti also pointed beyond the current flooding.
"There are clearly broader and more challenging issues around affordable housing and flood control that deserve our attention," she said, "but those are far too complex to address in the three minutes that I have to make public comment today."
Resident Matt Lynch also spoke about Covered Bridge Apartments, telling council, "Whatever you can do for those people, please help them."
Ryder said the council "will do everything in its power" to assist.
The apartments have to be cleaned and meet life and safety codes for residents to move back in, Borough Manager Andrea Coaxum said. The borough is working with its code inspection company and Covered Bridge Apartments property management to get that done, she said.
In another flooding-related matter, council authorized spending up to $50,000 to stabilize the South Perkasie Covered Bridge, which was washed off its abutments in the flooding and to put security fencing around it. The bridge, originally built in 1832, was moved to Lenape Park in 1958 and no longer crosses a waterway, but is near the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek.
There were previous plans to restore the covered bridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Coaxum said experts have looked at the bridge since the latest flooding and concluded the restoration plans can continue.
"All of these experts have said they have no doubt the structure can be rebuilt and a significant amount of the existing bridge structure can be used," she said.
Coaxum also reported on the pedestrian bridges in the borough parks.
The parks were initially closed after the flooding, but had reopened.
"All the pedestrian bridges were inspected," Coaxum said. "All were found to be in good shape. We did have some damage to one railing, but other than that, we were extremely lucky with those structures."
In other matters:
• "It looks like the soap box derby is coming back. That's an event I know many people look forward to in town, but it does require a road closure," said council's Park and Recreation Committee Chair Matt Aigeldinger.
The board approved closing a portion of 9th Street on Oct. 9 and 10 for this year's Indian Valley Soap Box Derby.
• Council approved purchasing four body cameras for the police department.
The just over $5,000 cost was included in this year's budget, Coaxum said.
The department currently has eight body cameras, Police Chief Robert Schurr said.
"With 12, it'll allow most of our officers to have cameras," he said.
There may still be some times, such as large community events, during which not all of the officers would have body cameras, he said.
He said he's looking into options to possibly add more of the cameras next year.