American Red Cross opens shelter in Berks Co. due to severe storms, flooding

An emergency shelter was opened at the Glenside Elementary School in Reading.

By6abc Digital Staff and Briana Smith WPVI logo
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Severe weather leads to flooding in Berks County
Residents were cleaning up after weekend storms led to flooding in Berks County.

READING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The American Red Cross opened a shelter for Berks County residents impacted by flooding on Sunday.

A series of storms rolled through the Pennsylvania area on Sunday which damaged homes and streets across several counties.

READ | Severe storms roll through Montgomery County, leaving disaster behind

Officials with the Pennsylvania Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross said they are assisting residents of the Jamestown Village Apartments, located on Lackawanna Street in Reading, due to their homes flooding.

According to the Reading Fire Department, 24 apartment units were affected by the severe storms and a total of 39 people were displaced.

An emergency shelter was opened at the Glenside Elementary School, located at 500 Lackawanna Street in Reading.

Iris Seda is one of 14 residents, along with five pets, who slept at the shelter on Sunday.

"I'm very frustrated and very scared because I don't know what's my next step," she said.

School flooded

"This is beyond anything anyone has ever seen before," said Dr. Heidi Rochlin, the superintendent of the Antietam School District.

The community watched in awe as the Antietam Creek flooded from the storm.

Water gushed into Antietam Middle Senior High School.

"This is obviously just devastating for this community," said Governor Josh Shapiro. "There had been so much work and so much effort that had gone into trying to mitigate flooding."

Shapiro and local leaders walked around Lower Alsace Township to survey the destruction at the school, businesses and houses like those on Marshall Avenue.

"I feel very upset about what happened. The water come in our basement," said Khadiga Atifi whose two cars are also damaged.

"It's just a mess," said Marlene Ebling as she waited for the water to clear out of her basement. "The car company said it's destroyed, and I only had it for five months."

Several vehicles are totaled on the street among the slabs of concrete and mounds of debris.

Down the road at the high school, Rochlin said the district was in the middle of repairing the creek to prevent the constant flooding.

But now they'll have to start over on the outside and inside.

Rochlin said the school has significant damage and most likely won't reopen on August 21 as scheduled.

"Our basement, which had a lot of our maintenance equipment in it and all of our boilers and electric, completely wiped out. That was under 6 ft. of water," said Rochlin. "Our entire first floor of the building is unusable."

SEE ALSO | Delaware County officials make 6 water rescues after severe Sunday storms

It's a devastating blow to students.

"I'm hoping to start my senior year in the school I've spent 7th through 12th in," said Tatum Reese. "Just to be able to come and have a normal first day of school."

Rochlin said they'll come up with a creative plan so the nearly 600 students can return to class eventually.

"We will make this work for us. We will all come together like we always do. Students, it will be okay. We are there for you. We will support you," said Rochlin.

Meanwhile, Governor Shapiro said it's crucial for home and business owners to assess their damage and share it with local leaders in hopes of getting federal funding.

"We're going to make sure our kids have a great school to go to this fall. We're going to make sure our homeowners are taken care of, and we're going to make sure this community gets back up on its feet," said Shapiro.

For those in need of donations or looking to donate, you can drop them off at the Antietam Valley Recreation Center.

Anyone in need of Red Cross assistance can call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).