Saucon Valley Walloped by Irene

As of Sunday evening flood waters have subsided and winds have diminished, but thousands of PPL customers in Lower Saucon remain without power.

UPDATE, 7pm, Aug. 28: The direct effects of Hurricane Irene have for the most part subsided in the Saucon Valley, although as of 7pm thousands of Lower Saucon PPL customers remain without electricity. Significant flooding occurred earlier along many of the major waterways in Hellertown and Lower Saucon, including the Saucon Creek, the Silver Creek and the Black River. However, as of Sunday evening damage from flooding appears to have been limited in scope. Many basements took on water as a result of the storm, and some buildings in the 600 block of Main Street, Hellertown, suffered flood damage. Gusty winds have diminished, but saturated ground and tree limbs mean isolated power outages could still occur.

The storm isn't even over yet, but it appears Hurricane Irene has already dealt a devastating blow to parts of the Saucon Valley, with serious flash flooding occurring throughout both Hellertown and Lower Saucon.

Reader-submitted photos depict flooding along Main Street at Polk Valley Road and along West Walnut Street and throughout in Hellertown, with roads closed to traffic. And according to a Patch follower, WFMZ-TV Channel 69 has reported that a state of emergency has been declared in the borough, although this has not yet been confirmed.

An earlier report indicated that traffic exiting I-78 at Hellertown was not being permitted to enter the borough via Route 412 south.

A photo taken by Patch freelance photographer Richard Hafner Sunday morning showed the first floor of the Wagner Grist Mill on West Walnut Street--a historic building maintained by the --submerged by at least several feet of water. And a photo posted by Patch friend Dottie Susko Guy on Hellertown Patch's Facebook page showed flood waters from Polk Valley Run and/or the Saucon Creek spread across the Shoppes at Hellertown Parking lot, and surround both and the .

Additionally, a portion of Meadows Road in Lower Saucon Township was shown to be under water near the Meadows Road Bridge over the Saucon Creek. Another photo, submitted by , showed a downed tree and power lines blocking a section of Fire Lane in the township. And a section of Black River Road between Bingen Road and Route 378 has been closed due to flooding, according to PennDOT's Engineering District 5.

Earlier this morning, reports indicated that fire department volunteers had been called to pump out numerous basements along Main Street in Hellertown.

Please continue to post comments to this story and upload photos to let your community know how you've fared during the storm.

However, Patch urges all readers to remain safe and avoid unnecessary travel as the flooding and aftereffects of Hurricane Irene continue to be felt.

A Flash Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect for Northampton County through 1:45pm Sunday, with the weather service stating that additional rainfall amounts of less than one inch are possible in the warned area.

"(The) latest reports indicate that many locations have received 6 to 8 inches of rainfall since yesterday," the weather service said in a statement accompanying the warning. "Runoff from this extreme rainfall will continue throughout the day today with widespread flooding of  small creeks and streams. Many roadways are closed and impassable. This is a very serious flood situation."

Richard Hafner August 28, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Wind damage will be the next threat to deal with.
Josh Popichak (Editor) August 28, 2011 at 02:46 PM
PPL is currently reporting that 3472 customers in Lower Saucon Township are without power out of 5353 (total) in Northampton County. Hellertown is not on the list of municipalities reporting outages but numerous Patch readers from Hellertown have said they are without power in the wake of the hurricane.
Josh Popichak (Editor) August 28, 2011 at 02:53 PM
I can't answer that right now Melody, but if the situation is so dire that the borough has declared a state of emergency I would imagine they want people to stay off the roads unless they have a personal emergency and must leave. I'm hoping we'll be able to get some type of official statement regarding the impact of the storm and what local residents should be doing...but I would think for right now, staying put is best.
Robin August 28, 2011 at 03:12 PM
78-33-22 only way to get to Bethlehem!
Tim Zuck August 28, 2011 at 04:57 PM
East side is out as of 12:30ish.
SAK August 28, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Haven't been on the trai (with good reason!) but can see that at least one tree is down on the trail south of Old MIll Rd. Wonder if Lower Saucon will have the ability to clear the trees as that is certainly not a priority! Perhaps volunteers are needed?
Josh Popichak (Editor) August 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM
I've just uploaded some more photos of the flooding that occurred earlier along Meadows Road, near Old Mill Road and west of Route 412 in Lower Saucon.
Karen Samuels August 28, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Great photos! Lower Saucon still does not have electricity.
Josh Popichak (Editor) August 28, 2011 at 11:16 PM
The PPL Outage Center is still reporting more than 7600 Lower Saucon customers without power, but I'm not sure if it's being updated since the numbers on the map haven't changed for a while. Has anyone in Lower Saucon had power restored?
Stephanie Brown August 29, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Thanks Josh for documenting the historic flooding. It is a very important part of t he history of the area!
Stephanie Brown August 29, 2011 at 12:08 AM
It is also important to note that the historic Meadows Road Bridge is NOT the reason for the flooding in that area.A report done by the Lehigh County Conservation District showed that the design of the bed of the creekis to blame and that it could be fixed. The bed of the creek was at one time moved, apparantly by the zinc company. There is a lot of misconceptions by many people in the area that the bridge causes the flooding. It is just not true. County Bridge 15 as it is known has withstood many flooding events in he area, more so than many modern strucutres. I tried to find out if Northampton county inspected the bridge after the earthquake and before the huricane, but got no answer.
Mary Anne Looby August 29, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I guess we are one of the lucky ones. We live in LST and were not impacted at all. We did have a lot of old trees removed last fall, or I am sure some of them would have come down, but we never lost power or cable and nothing was blown around. Not even my trash can, which I forgot about on Saturday. It was right where it should have been after Reiss Bros. came by. You have to face reality. There is always a price to be paid when you live near water. It's lovely when everything is calm and normal, but when a storm hits, you have to pay the piper!
Karen Samuels August 29, 2011 at 03:11 PM
I met a bunch of Lower Saucon neighbors at Starbucks in the Promenade this morning. Everyone was charging their laptops and discussing having no power. It was a nice scene despite the inconvenience.
Mary Anne Looby August 29, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Really amazing how Irene played pick and choose!


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