Harrisburg workers still cleaning up from Saturday’s storm


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Sep 05, 2023

Harrisburg workers still cleaning up from Saturday’s storm

Saturday’s storm in Harrisburg may have not lasted long but it left a mess

Saturday's storm in Harrisburg may have not lasted long but it left a mess behind that city employees are still cleaning up.

City firefighters had to go to dozens of calls. Harrisburg workers had to deal with dozens of trees. A distress call came in for more than 50 kayakers who were out on the Susquehanna River during the storm. And a damaged billboard had to be taken down.

"From 8 p.m. Saturday night with the exception of maybe three hours of sleep, they (city employees) were out all day, all night yesterday, making sure the area got cleaned up," said Harrisburg spokesperson Matthew Maisel.

Officials said some of the areas in Harrisburg that were hit included: the 2200-2500 blocks of Jefferson Street; Front and Forster Streets; Nineteenth and Pemberton streets; Nineteenth and Sycamore streets; the 100 block of Verbeke Street; the 500 block of Verbeke Street; the 200 block of Harris Street; Berryhill Street; Green and McClay streets; and Riverfront Park on Front Street.

Maisel said that by 6:30 p.m. Sunday, all the roads in the city were open and all the traffic signals were back up and running but the work is far from completed.

"They’re back out there today, still doing cleanup," he said.

David Baker, director of the Harrisburg Bureau of Parks and Recreation, said the city had to clean up more than 30 fallen or damaged trees from the storm and that workers will continue to focus on roadways and sidewalks until Thursday. After that, he said they will focus on city owned-property, including parks.

Officials said there were some power outages in the city following the storm. The largest area affected was around the Hoverton Homes in Harrisburg, officials said.

Harrisburg Bureau Fire Chief Brian Enterline said the storm moved in a straight line through the Midtown corridor and Front Street, generating about 36 distress calls. One call involved 56 kayakers that were in distress, including four who flipped over but were able to stand up in the river and walk out. There was also a separate water rescue.

Enterline also said that emergency traffic in the area of Harrisburg Hospital was diverted around Front Street.

"The emergency crews that would have been coming from northern Dauphin County were not able to traverse Front Street because of the number of trees and things down," he said. "That was a coordination that had to be done with the hospital system. Not just Harrisburg Hospital but also West Shore because a lot of those that come down Front Street go across the bridge to get to Holy Spirit Hospital."

Enterline also said there were numerous trees down on the wires, and localized flooding in Midtown, along Third Street, and Jefferson Street.

"We did have some cars in the water," he said. "The localized flooding we dealt with was directly a result of the leaves. The leaves blew off the trees, and climbed up the storm sewer grates, which didn't allow that quick burst of rain to dissipate."

The storm damaged a billboard at Third and Forster streets, flipping it over toward the street.

"We’re not in the business of tearing private property down but in the position it was we had to act to make it safe for the public," said Enterline. "Obviously, Forster Street is a fairly busy street."

City officials reported that there was one injury. A small branch fell on an adult woman who was walking with her family. She was transported to the hospital. And there was one fire in the cleanup that involved a tree with wires around it.

Officials said property owners should be mindful and vigilant of wires and report anything that could be potentially dangerous. If residents see a tree that looks like it's a public safety issue, they should contact the Dauphin County non-emergency line at 717-558-6900. If the tree is in their backyard, they should contact a tree service, because the city can't go on private property, Baker said.

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