Forks, Palmer Prepare for Hurricane Sandy
'Frankenstorm' is expected to hit Lehigh Valley early next week with rain starting Sunday.
Palmer and Forks townships are used to flooding.
When any major storm or hurricane hits, the townships usually suffer significant flooding in several key spots in each municipality, with Forks usually getting the brunt of it.
Officials from both townships held meetings Friday to prepare for the possible impact of a "Frankenstorm," Hurricane Sandy, that is expected to wallop the East Coast sometime early next week, possibly hitting land in New Jersey Tuesday.
"We've had a lot of experience with these types of weather events over the past few years," Forks Township Fire Chief Chuck Chapman said.
Chapman said he's been in contact with Forks Township Manager John Cornell, Public Works Director Mark Roberts and the police department to discuss preparations.
The chief said he's checking to ensure that all small pumps and chainsaws are working, all the vehicles have been topped off with fuel, that the generator is working and that portable generators are on standby.
"We're all ready," Chapman said. "We just have to double check everything."
Roberts said that Forks has prepared for the storm by doing the following:
- Three trucks are loaded with barricades and "road closed" signs.
- All Public Works vehicles will be topped off with fuel.
- Chipper is being checked out and fueled.
- Sandbags for weighing down barricades are being filled.
- Chainsaws are being sharpened, and extra fuel and oil cans are ready.
- Leaf vacuum is out getting what piles are out on the streets.
- Storm sewer grates are being cleaned off.
"Our contracted fuel supplier has been notified to fill our diesel and gas tanks," Roberts said.
Palmer Township Police Chief Larry Palmer said that Fire Commissioner/Emergency Management Director Delmar Grube and the police department's command staff met Friday morning to discuss the possible impact and issues for the storm.
Grube said that police and fire officials covered normal flooding problem areas, major routes of travel, equipment inventories and manpower levels.
He said another meeting is scheduled for Monday morning.
Palmer Township’s Public Works and Parks Department Friday collected leaves in areas prone to flooding, Public Services Director Tom Adams said.
He also said picnic tables, athletic benches and equipment were moved to higher ground at spots along the Bushkill Creek, including Penn Pump Park and Mill Race Park.
Adams said that prior to and during the storm, the Public Works and Parks departments will be out proactively monitoring and cleaning up problem areas to the extent that conditions safely allow.
That includes setting up road closures, setting up temporary signs and detours, removing downed trees and branches and cleanup, and attempting to unclog key storm sewer inlets clogged with leaves.
Adams said there are more than 1,540 storm sewer inlets in Palmer Township and that it's not possible that all can be kept free of leaves and cleaned during the height of the storm.
Adams recommends that motorists not be out during the storm. He said they should be especially careful when driving after the storm and be alert for flooding hazards, road hazards, detours, and Police/Fire/Public Workers providing emergency services and performing cleanup work.
Last August, Tropical Storm Irene -- although downgraded from a hurricane -- wreacked havoc on the region, especially in Forks Township. It also canceled the first day of school for students in the Easton Area School District.
The township suffered so much damage that it received a $12,600 check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency later on.
The storm caused sinkholes in the Penn's Ridge development and also created craters in the Big Woody's retail center, shutting several businesses for weeks and the sports bar for months.
Roberts said that Zucksville Road at Bushkill Drive in Forks Township is usually the first to flood, followed by Newlins Road at Sullivan Trail and Kesslersville Road at Forks Village.
He said that Bushkill Road can flood at numerous areas from Creek Road to Northwood Avenue once it comes out of the banks
Higher water levels would flood the following: Sullivan Trail, Uhler Road, Bushkill Drive and Kesslersville Road north of Newlins Road West, Roberts added.
Chief Palmer said that motorists should remember that if traffic signals are out due to power outages, they must stop and treat the intersection like a four-way stop.
Monday is the year anniversary of a major snowstorm that dumped more than a foot of snow on the region.