Flooding, riot takes toll on first responders

In a period of just more than 48 hours, Centre County experienced disastrous flooding that required about 100 evacuations or rescues and then a downtown celebration-turned-riot that resulted in $30,000 worth of damage to public property.

It was tough on people, said Steve Bair, fire director for Centre Region Council of Governments.

He said his crews had a 33-hour day Thursday into Friday, with response to the flooding being followed by a fire in Ferguson Township.

They didn’t have to pull resources away from the flooding for the Penn State upset win over Ohio State and subsequent riot, he said. But crews still worked a 22-hour day on Saturday.

It costs money to put Alpha Fire Company trucks out on the street, but there’s money in the budget for it, Bair said.

It’s more difficult for a company like Citizen’s Hook and Ladder in Milesburg, he said. Milesburg isn’t tax supported and has to raise a lot of its own funds, Bair said.

Most of the volunteers for Milesburg’s fire company live in an affected area, he said. A lot of those volunteers had serious issues at their homes from the flooding.

Any small cost is a big hit for those volunteer fire companies, he said.

With the riot, Centre County Sheriff Bryan Sampsel pointed out that the cost is not just for the damage, but everything else that goes with it.

Seven deputy sheriffs were at the game and got called to assist with controlling the riot, so each of them worked 2.25 hours of overtime, Sampsel said. Those extra hours come out of county taxpayers’ pockets.

One of the deputy’s cars also had about $500 worth of damage, he added.

It was a great win, he said, but there’s no reason for people to damage property.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz