Area Manages to Escape Major Hurricane Damage
Route 611 residents stay and Penn Pump Park and local businesses seem to be okay after water begins to recede.
The old saying goes, "Come hell or high water." For some Forks Township residents, neither applies.
Many of those along N. Delaware Drive (Route 611) told to evacuate their homes due to the rising -- and cresting -- Delaware River said Monday that they weren't budging.
"We're all the same," said Paul Eisley, who lives at 4161 N. Delaware Drive. "A lot of my neighbors haven't left either. Once you live on the river, you learn to adjust. We don't panic."
Forks Township officials put out notice Sunday telling people along that stretch to vacate their homes by 4pm. They were told to head to higher ground or stay in shelters due to flooding from the river as it reached dangerous levels from Hurricane Irene's wrath.
Eisley and his wife thought about it and booked a hotel room, but only stayed an hour before returning home.
"All of our stuff is on higher ground and so is our living area," he said, pointing to a higher corner of his house as the river raged behind him. "We're used to the river running high. We spent the whole weekend here. I think people are overreacting."
That fact was backed up by an official of the Salvation Army who said when the Easton center's doors opened at 9am Monday there were no evacuees from Forks Township who stayed overnight. The center only had an adult and a few children come by for a little while Sunday afternoon.
"The river didn't crest as high as anticipated so it turns out there will not be a need for an evacuation," Forks Township Manager Richard Schnaedter said. "We're absolutely happy about that."
Township officials said they were concerned that the river could crest at 31 feet by Monday afternoon. But it only reached around 25 feet.
Despite flooding in some spots Sunday, especially along Bushkill Creek, Schnaedter said the township came through the storm pretty well.
"We had a couple of concerns, but it was nothing that we didn't anticipate," he said. "With our preparation, we kept damage to a minimum. But the hurricane wasn't as severe as expected."
What a difference a day makes.
Where some sections of Palmer and Forks townships looked like lakes Sunday, they were in decent shape early Monday.
Penn Pump Park in Palmer Township, which saw its playground and ball field flooded Sunday, was returning to normal Monday. Most of the water surrounding both were gone and the waterfall near Frick Transfer in Forks that made the Bushkill Creek resemble Niagara Falls was back to its normal state.
On the Easton border of Forks Township, the GJ Mills housing complex that was overflowing with rushing water Sunday showed little evidence of damage by Bushkill Creek flooding Monday. For the most part, work crews in both townships were out and about Monday cleaning debris like falling tree limbs and restoring roads to order.
Meanwhile, PennDOT had shortened its list of road closings Monday afternoon for Northampton County.
All of the closed roads in Forks and Palmer had been reopened, yet the agency was still warning motorists not to drive across roads covered with water because the water may be deeper than it looks, and to never drive around barricades or signs on closed roads.
Motorists are also being advised that traffic signals may not be functioning due to power outages, and to use extreme caution at intersections.
Motorists can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com.
511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA website.
With everything returning to normal now that Hurricane Irene is a memory, officials can focus on the next item on the calendar.
Schools in the Easton Area School District, which were delayed from opening Monday, will open for the first time Tuesday.