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Centre County praised for response to flooding

Arthur Knight works on his Lexus, which was damaged in the flooding outside of this home on Railroad Street in Milesburg. Knight the Lexus, which he’s had for 20 years, will run again after he takes everything apart and fixes it. Knight also had a flooded basement and has been working to dry and clean everything, including his washer and dryer.
Arthur Knight works on his Lexus, which was damaged in the flooding outside of this home on Railroad Street in Milesburg. Knight the Lexus, which he’s had for 20 years, will run again after he takes everything apart and fixes it. Knight also had a flooded basement and has been working to dry and clean everything, including his washer and dryer. adrey@centredaily.com

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.

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.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

Flooding aid

To donate

Helping Other People Excel Inc.

Website: http://www.helpingotherpeopleexcel.info/DONATIONS.html

Mail: Helping Other People Excel Inc., 253 Sycamore Lane, Julian, PA 16844

Interfaith Human Services Displaced Residents Fund

Website: http://www.ihs-centrecounty.org/displaced-residents-program.html

Phone: 234-7731

Centre County Veterans Assistance Fund

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/vetassistancefund/donate

Phone: 355-3974

Mail: Veterans Assistance Fund, P.O. Box 546, Centre Hall, PA 16828

Flood Relief for Milesburg

Website: https://www.gofundme.com/flood-relief-for-milesburg-2vuy3fw

Howard Fire Company

Online: https://www.facebook.com/HowardFireCompanyFallPunkinChunkinFestival/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

Mail: Howard Fire Company, P.O. Box 276, Howard, PA 16841

Resources

Centre County Emergency Management Agency

Website: http://centrecountypa.gov/index.aspx?NID=256

Phone: 355-6745

Centre County Office of Adult Services

Website: http://centrecountypa.gov/index.aspx?NID=308

Phone: 355-6768

24-hour hotline in collaboration with Community Help Centre: 800-494-2500

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