Bottles, balloons, basketball flow down Schuylkill River

Flooding concerns continue near Darby Creek & Brandywine Creek

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Debris, bottles, basketball flow down Schuylkill
Debris, bottles, basketball flow down Schuylkill. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at Noon on August 14, 2018.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The strong current is not what is getting people's attention when they stroll past the Schuylkill River. The trash is.

The trash flowing down the Schuylkill near Boathouse Row, including bottles, tires, balloons, and even a basketball, has nowhere to go and continues to pile up.

"I was kind of wandering why it looked so dirty today," Hafsa Muhammad of Nicetown said.

Passersby pulled out their phones and stared in disbelief.

"It's a lot. It's interesting that it's predominantly plastic bottles; you'd expect the wood, but just the quantity of plastic is rather overwhelming," Carol Cunningham of Fairmount said.

Neighbors say the trash pile is a usual occurrence when there's flooding and the Streets Department typically comes and cleans it up. Action News reached out to the Streets Department, but have not heard back as of yet.

The Schuylkill River was swollen and brown Tuesday morning after heavy rains the night before. The river crested early at close to 11 feet, but water levels were still far from normal.

"I haven't seen it like this in a long time. It's really rushing," Danny Bengie of Germantown said.

Along Kelly Drive, bicyclists and runners were diverted as minor flooding swallowed up part of the path. It didn't stop Susan Miller of Mount Airy from giving it a go.

"I can bike through the water, it's not that high, but I couldn't because it's muddy down there," Miller said.

But just as people work around some of the ponding and flooding in the area, and other assess its impact, the city is preparing for even more rainfall.

Public works crews were seen clearing up clogged up storm drains on Tuesday morning. With the ground already so saturated, anything helps.

Brandywine Creek

Cleanup after Brandywine Creek flooding. Katherine Scott reports during Action News at Noon on August 14, 2018.

In East Brandywine Township, crews at Brandywine Picnic Park blasted water at the mud as the cleanup got underway. They're positioned right near the Brandywine Creek and have come to anticipate the flooding.

"The worst was in 1999 when Floyd came through," Shay Capps of the Brandywine Picnic Park said. "This only had a few feet of water. It didn't get into any buildings. This happens all the time."

Chopper 6 was overhead on Monday showing the flooding and debris Yet, Capps Capps explains flooding is part and parcel of this piece of land close to the creek and they prepare for it, like moving the picnic benches from under the tents so they don't knock down the structures when they float to the fence.

After a couple days of elbow grease, Capps says they will be ready to host their next event.

"We just clean up all the mud, put the tables back, it's all stored off site right now," Capps said.

In Chadds Ford, the levels of the Brandywine Creek dropped and the current was still swift Tuesday morning.

Floodwaters stretched across nearby Route 1 hours earlier as PennDOT crews were out warning drivers. In the morning, PennDOT was moving signs along Creek Road, which runs close to the water.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art sits right on the bank of the creek, structured around a gristmill built in 1864. The building is designed to withstand the flooding, with features installed to ensure the art and their visitors remain safe.

"When the water starts to come up above the banks of the river, we have a plan that goes into action," Andrew Stewart of the Brandywine River Museum of Art said.

Stewart says a pump is used to remove any water that comes into the building.

Darby Creek

Flooding damage assessed in Darby. John Rawlins reports during Action News at 12:30 p.m. on August 14, 2018.

Delaware County Emergency Services staffers were in the field Tuesday morning to make an initial damage assessment that will go to Harrisburg. They are inspecting dwellings and businesses.

One of the hardest hit blocks was the low lying 900 block of Springfield in Darby after the Darby Creek roared out of its banks, triggering water rescues and washing through several first floor apartments.

Hazel Coles was surveying the damage in her waterlogged apartment. Beds and other furniture were ruined, but she was able to salvage smaller items like a tricycle for a nephew and personal items including a jewelry box.

"If you believe in God, trust in God, you can get through anything," Coles said.

Coles says she is staying at the Red Cross House for now and is not planning to return to her Darby apartment.

"I would not wish anybody to live here with that creek back there," Coles said.


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