Fahrvergnügen! Steer clear of flash flooding

By on July 24, 2013


STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer

Photo by Preston Whitcaftâ?©Flood waters were deeper than expected for this Tuesday morning motorist on Clay Road.

The maneuver in the photo above is not recommended.

Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department Chief David Steffen said Monday night’s storm caught a few drivers off guard.

"The NLCRPD reminds motorists not to attempt to travel on or across flooded roadways and to respect roadway warning devices and barriers," he said in a release issued Tuesday morning.

In September of 2011, a Lebanon woman died in a similar situation on Route 322 near Pumping Station Road in Elizabeth Township.

Despite repeated warnings, local emergency officials are surprised when they still see people try to navigate these dangerous waters.

"After all the PSAs and warnings from so many different sources, we continue to have people who can’t use simple common sense," said Lititz Fire Chief Ron Oettel. "Over and over, motorists continue to do this, even with steep fines imposed now for this behavior."

Oettel shared the following excerpt from a July 15 article in Philly.com:

A law signed by Gov. Corbett last week allows a fine of $250 to $500 for a violation, two points on the offender’s driver’s license, and the cost of any rescue by first responders. The law, which drew unanimous support in the state House and Senate, takes effect in September.

According to the National Weather Service, more people perish in floods than tornadoes and hurricanes. Between 1974 and 2003, 3,192 people died in floods, an average of 106 per year. During the same period, lightning claimed 2,002 lives, tornadoes killed 1,935 and hurricanes took 421 people. Eighty percent of these flooding deaths were the result of people driving or walking into moving water.

Monday night’s storm closed several local roads, but Lititz was spared from the level of flooding experienced in neighboring Manheim, where borough streets were under water and one driver had to be rescued.

Regional police reported the following roadways closed due to flash flood waters:

Clay Road at Hackman Road in Warwick Township

Erb’s Bridge Road in Warwick Township

Hackman Road at the Elizabeth and Warwick Township line

Cocalico Road in Warwick Township

Log Cabin Road in Warwick Township

Elizabeth Township’s road superintendent, Glenn Martin, reported the following road closings in his area:

Old Pike

Pumping Station Road

Hackman Road

Clay Road

Snavely Mill Road

Meanwhile, all roads in Lititz remained open throughout the storm, according to borough police.

Those traveling north of the turnpike late Monday night may have thought Route 501 was closed due to flooding, but it was an overturned tractor trailer truck near Camp Mack that shut down the highway for about 13 hours. State police, a Hazmat crew and PPL workers were on the scene until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Record Express was unable to get a full report from state police prior to press time.

Earlier that evening, prior to the storm, local emergency crews left their Monday night drills to respond to a small fire caused by food left on a stove at the Walnut Street Apartments (off of West Orange Street) in Lititz. A sizeable crowd gathered as fire trucks from Lititz, Brunnerville and Rothsville converged on the scene, but Oettel said the incident was minor.

More FLOODING, page A2

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