Friday, July 31, 2015

Bensalem residents pass on evacuation order

Many scoffed at the strength and effects of Hurricane Sandy, but others packed up. About 10,000 residents were withpit electricity, PECO reported.

Bensalem residents pass on evacuation order

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About 500 to 1,000 Bensalem Township residents were ordered to evacuate homes near Neshaminy and Poquessing Creeks and the Delaware River on Monday, but many chose to stay and wait out Hurricane Sandy.

“This is barely a storm,” said Ed Carver, 46, of Crescent Avenue, near the Neshaminy Creek, as he stood outside the house he grew up in.

“They’re only talking about [the creek reaching] 10 feet – that’s nothing,” he said as family and friends filled his kitchen, eating homemade stromboli and sipping beer. “We’re used to 17 feet, 23 feet.”

The storm did knock out power for about 10,000 PECO customers throughout the county. As of late afternoon, Northampton Township had about 3,000 customers without power; Bristol, 1,350; Dublin Borough, 1,100; New Britain, 950; and Falls Township, 900, PECO reported.

Crews were being sent out for repairs, but PECO said that repairs might be suspended as winds picked up.

In Bensalem, the Neshaminy and Poquessing Creeks were expected to overflow their banks at high tide, at 2 p.m. and again at 2 a.m. Tuesday, police Sgt. Andrew Aninsman said in an e-mail. But there was no sign of flooding in the neighborhoods along both creeks at mid-afternoon.

Police said that residents were being notified about the evacuation, but Carver said that emergency workers had not been to his street.

“We don’t need anyone telling us to get out,” he said. “When water starts coming in the basement window, that’s when we shut things and leave.”

Police did warn residents and slide notices under doors at one building of Creek Side Apartments near Poquessing Creek.

“We can’t make them leave,” Corp. Brian Oliverio said, explaining the township’s mandatory evacuation order. “We tell them that if they stay, we might not be able to come and get them” when conditions worsen.

Tim Soto, 19, said he was packing his clothes and taking his mother and teenage sister to his aunt’s house in Bristol Township.

“I’m taking blankets and my animals and moving out” till the storm passes through, he said. He has two guinea pigs and four hermit crabs.

The family has lived in the apartment for two years, and this is the first time they have evacuated, Soto said, even though it was unlikely floodwaters would reach his apartment on the second level of the three-story building.     

Police could not say how many residents evacuated their homes.

Evacuees could take refuge at one of the three American Red Cross shelters, at Council Rock North School, 62 Swamp Road, NewtownPennsbury East High School, Hood Boulevard, Fairless Hills; and Palisades High School, 35 Church Hill Road, Kintnersville. Pennsbury East and Palisades are pet friendly; pets are not permitted at Council Rock North.

There were 21 evacuees at the three shelters as early evening: 17 at Pennsbury, 3 at Palisades, and one at Council Rock, Red Cross spokesman Dave Schrader said.   

For the list of evacuated streets in Bensalem, go to www.bensalempolice.org.

In Yardley,  which often gets flooded during storms by waters from the Delaware River, a borough official was “cautiously optimistic” that the historic town would  be spared this time.

“We asked the Delaware Canal State Park to drain the canal” that runs parallel to the river, “and they did it Saturday afternoon,” said code enforcement officer Wes Foraker. “Last year, the canal spilled over” and trapped residents in a 100-home neighborhood.

“This buys us time,” Foraker said. 

The most recent updates “have the river going down, not up,” he said late Monday morning.

If the Delaware peaks at the projected 16 feet, “we’re not closing any roads,” Foraker said.

“We still have to get through the wind storm that arrived at 7 a.m.,” which could topple trees and cause power outages, he added.  

About half of the 54 municipalities in Bucks, including  Yardley and Bensalem, have declared a state of emergency, said county spokesman Chris Edwards. Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery signed a Declaration of Emergency for the county on Sunday.

The Bucks County  Emergency Operations Center opened at 5 a.m. Monday to deal with the approaching storm, but all non-essential county government were closed and  will remain closed Tuesday.

The county Fire Marshal’s office advised residents of potential hazards when there is a power outage:

  • Do not use generators, propane gas grills, heaters, lanterns or charcoal grills inside buildings. There is a danger of lethal carbon monoxide poisoning from any of those sources.
  • Candles should be covered with glass shields and placed at least 12 inches away from items that burn.
  • Propane tanks should be turned off.
  • Propane and gasoline should not be stored indoors.
  • Homes should maintain active working smoke detectors.

Storm notification alerts are available by signing up for ReadyNotifyPA.org, which is linked to the home page of the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org.

Residents can “like” Bucks County Govt on Facebook and follow @BucksCountyGovt on Twitter for updates. They also can check www.buckscounty.org for more detailed information.

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About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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