CLEARFIELD – Dozens of local residents were affected by heavy rainfall that triggered severe flooding in areas of Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township on Thursday night.
Clearfield Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott and Lawrence Township Supervisor Randy Powell, chair, addressed flooding issues during a press conference this morning at the Clearfield Borough Administrative Offices.
According to Stott, flooding displaced more than two dozen residents and animals from their homes. These people stayed at shelters opened at both the Trinity United Methodist Church of Clearfield and the Hyde Fire Company, and they received assistance from the American Red Cross.
Additionally, she said some residents were injured in an explosion that occurred late last night at a Clearfield Borough residence. She said that fire officials are still investigating the cause of the explosion, and no further information is currently available.
At the press conference, Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township officials released the following joint statement on the flooding:
“A rain storm last evening produced approximately 5.2 inches of rain in a short amount of time, which flooded areas of Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township.
“We have been working with Clearfield County Department of Emergency Services and have filed a disaster declaration for Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township. At this time, we do not know if our community will be eligible for financial assistance.”
Officials also asked residents to call into their respective borough and township offices to report their property damage in case assistance does become available. “We are also requesting that residents secure their homes and document damage with pictures and videos.”
Borough and township workers are trying to clean-up and re-open roadways. “Please be courteous of their safety when traveling, and avoid the West Side area until clean-up is complete. We would appreciate that,” said Stott.
“Both the borough and township are working as diligently as possible. We know that several of our residents are in very dire straits, but we are asking for patience and cooperation. Also, please help your neighbors and friends. The Salvation Army will supply clean-up kits and food to victims.”
Local roadways, Powell said, are still covered with stone, and workers cannot get it all off at this time. As well, he said a lot of roadways are washed out to the sides, and if motorists observe cones, they are asked to move over because some ditches are five feet deep.
“We’re not going to get to all of those today, so please just be careful on the roadways,” he said.
Clean-up and financial assistance now rest upon the weather forecast, Stott said, noting other communities have also been affected across the commonwealth. She said local officials have been in contact with their state officials and asking for their help in obtaining state and federal assistance.
Residents who have flooded basements may call the borough and township offices to arrange for them to be pumped out. If the offices are closed, residents should contact the county dispatch’s non-emergency phone number at 814-765-1533, said Stott.
“Local fire departments are going out diligently to pump basements,” she said. For this, local officials stressed the importance for residents to please contact county dispatch at the non-emergency phone number.
During the press conference, Powell confirmed the flooding that occurred was not the result of the sewer project. “It wasn’t any part of this incident. It was just the amount of rain we got and living in the area we do between three mountains,” he said.
“The sewer project wasn’t even in the area, where the flooding took place. I can’t even see any reason to find the sewer project as the situation here.” Stott said she had been in contact with the borough’s engineers, and they concurred that the sewer project was not the culprit.
She said that during the flood event, Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township worked closely together and were both provided with “fantastic assistance” from agencies around the county. “Our County 911 brought a temporary unit right down to Station No. 1.
“All of the road crews and police officers from both municipalities were out trying to assist residents, rescue residents and to get them to a safe shelter. It was a collective effort by all of our emergency personnel,” said Stott.
Powell thanked all of the outer-lying emergency agencies that responded from DuBois City, Sandy Township, Curwensville Borough, Goshen Township and Philipsburg. “The 1964 flood was the last devastation that we had like this,” he said.
“We had a little in East End a few years ago, but it was nothing compared to what we went through here last night.” Stott added that about two years ago, Clearfield’s “neighbors” faced the same problems in DuBois.
“It’s very overwhelming when you see trailers and homes surrounded by the water almost up to their rooftop.” A damage estimate, she said, is not yet available, and it will be “a long time” before the clean-up is complete.
For residents, Clearfield Borough officials can be reached at 814-765-7817; Lawrence Township officials at 814-765-0176; and non-emergency county dispatch at 814-765-1533.