The impact of last week’s disastrous flooding in Centre County is far-reaching, but so is the community’s support of those in need.
Both the flooding and how people can receive help were topics of discussion at Tuesday’s Centre County Board of Commissioners meeting.
“Phenomenal,” “fantastic” and “incredible” were words used to describe the response.
Jeff Wharran, director of Centre County Emergency Management Agency, said more than 200 private residences sustained damage from the flood.
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He added that about 100 rescues or evacuations took place.
Even with many people affected, there were only minor injuries, he said.
In some places, rainfall totaled more than 10 inches, Wharran said.
With the county having declared a disaster, Wharran said, it opens doors to get relief funding from the state and federal government.
The most concentrated area of damage occurred in central city Milesburg, he said.
Many homes on Railroad Street had full dumpsters in their front yards.
Wharran said some of the homes had 2 to 3 feet of water on the first floor, in addition to basements filled with water.
He said he thinks the infrastructure damage will easily top $1 million, but Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is still working to get estimates.
Wharran urged anyone whose property was damaged who hadn’t had a damage assessment team at their home to call Centre County EMA to report the damage.
Another effect of the flooding was the cancellation of an event vitally important to a local fire company.
Mark Ott, president of Howard Fire Company, told the board that the annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ event — usually held at Bald Eagle State Park — had to be canceled and could not be rescheduled.
Ott said the fundraiser, which involves people launching pumpkins into the lake with catapults, provides about 30 percent of Howard Fire Company’s budget.
In addition to an update on the flooding cleanup and damage assessment, several organizations addressed the commissioners on ways people in need could receive help.
Steve and Lisa Stem, owners of Eagle Valley Personal Care Home, spoke about their nonprofit, Helping Other People Excel Inc.
Steve Stem said HOPE has $40,000 to spend, and they want to give that to as many families as they can help — with checks for either $250 or $500.
Lisa Stem said they’re trying to take care of people’s immediate needs, such as clothing and food.
If anyone wants to donate, she said, be assured that the organization’s goal is just to get money to the people who need it.
Natalie Corman, deputy administrator of human services for the Board of Commissioners, said the county has a structure in place to deal with this type of disaster.
The county is reaching out to human services agencies and meeting with people to see what their needs are, she said.
“It’s a lot of moving parts,” she said.
The county is in the process of putting together a community event to get people the help they need, Corman said.
Commissioner Michael Pipe, board chairman, said details on the event will be forthcoming.
Pipe, along with Commissioners Mark Higgins and Steven Dershem, expressed gratitude for the first responders and volunteers who helped with flood relief.
How quickly folks jumped into the disaster was “incredible,” Pipe said.
Dershem said the support from Centre’s sister counties was almost overwhelming.
In addition, Higgins said the board would like to make an appeal to residents and businesses to continue to be generous in their support of those people affected.
Helping Other People Excel Inc.
Mail: Helping Other People Excel Inc., 253 Sycamore Lane, Julian, PA 16844
Interfaith Human Services Displaced Residents Fund
Centre County Veterans Assistance Fund
Mail: Veterans Assistance Fund, P.O. Box 546, Centre Hall, PA 16828
Flood Relief for Milesburg
Howard Fire Company
Mail: Howard Fire Company, P.O. Box 276, Howard, PA 16841
Centre County Emergency Management Agency
Centre County Office of Adult Services
24-hour hotline in collaboration with Community Help Centre: 800-494-2500