Borough Hall Closed; Send Schwenksville an E-mail

After Ida’s flood waters receded, chairs, tables and other furniture (at top, and below) was moved into the sunshine outside borough hall to dry

Borough Hall Closed; Send Schwenksville an E-mail

SCHWENKSVILLE PA – Need to get in touch with Schwenksville officials at Borough Hall? In normal times, the fastest way to do that was to pick up the phone. Times in Schwenksville have been anything but normal, however, in the 13 days since Tropical Storm Ida‘s rainfall brought more that 23 feet of Perkiomen Creek flooding into downtown.

Although post-flood re-programming of borough phones is on a lengthy to-do list, the best and “quickest way (for the public) to get hold of us” as of Thursday’s (Sept. 9, 2021) borough council meeting, Manager Anne Klepfer said, is to send an e-mail.

Borough Hall is expected to be closed for several months while clean-up efforts continue following the Sept. 1 flood, and repairs are made to damage there. In the interim, Klepfer and borough Secretary Gail Phillips are working remotely and responding as quickly as possible to all messages. E-mails get through fastest. The borough’s general mailbox is info@schwenksville-pa.org.

If you called Borough Hall since the flood and left a phone message, you’ve probably already gotten a reply. The reason? Although Klepfer and Phillips couldn’t yet hear them as of Thursday, phone system technology transcribed the messages into text and e-mailed transcripts to the staff. They’ve been busy replying ever since.

Borough Hall down, but not out

The newly renovated building, like so many other properties in the borough, was inundated by what council member and Emergency Management Coordinator Chris Melville confirmed was a record-setting 23-feet, 1-inch flood level. That’s 49 inches higher – Melville said he used a laser level for precision measurement – than the last flood, which also was a record-setter.

Klepfer and council Vice President Lee Ann Miller said the damage incurred inside borough offices was severe. Miller has talked to people familiar with the building’s earlier use by the former Schwenksville Fire Company, and reports they can’t recall when conditions there were as dire. Council’s agenda showed the clean-up and disinfection work was expected to cost more than $40,000.

Klepfer was scheduled Friday (Sept. 10) to meet with the borough’s insurance adjuster.

The council’s Thursday meeting was held virtually, but members hope its October and later gatherings will be conducted in-person in the downstairs meeting room of the Perkiomen Valley Library, 290 2nd St. The library “graciously” added the council meetings to its calendar, Miller said, with thanks.

The borough also anticipates spending less than $5,000 to recover 14 boxes filled with water-logged paper records on which it depends, Klepfer noted. They’ve been “shipped off to be freeze-dried,” she added, a method recommended by business experts. Equipment manufacturers say the process freezes saturated documents, and then allows the water to be extracted without damaging their structure while preventing further deterioration.

That cost could have been much higher, Miller added, without the help of council members and several other volunteers who rushed into the building to help retrieve files and other items.

Inspections and codes business done online

Klepfer praised the borough’s engineering firm, Barry Isett & Associates, for its prompt response to borough needs.

Its representatives were on site immediately following the storm’s end, consulting with Melville on solving damage-related problems at borough hall and the Borough Authority treatment plant. They also have direct access to the online forms being submitted for building inspections and codes work requests, she said.

Isett is “keeping track” of all submittals, and responding as needed. “They’ve been very hands on in assisting us, she said.

An abundance of thanks

Borough council and staff members during the meeting all took turns thanking the many employees, public servants, and volunteers who, understanding the difficulties Schwenksville faced, offered personal or organizational help and support.

They included council members themselves; Klepfer and Phillips, whom Miller said have been working non-stop; Isett, James R. Kenney Contracting of Collegeville, Collegeville Borough Manager Tamara Twardowski, PECO Energy, Gammon Electric Inc. of Perkiomenville, and Lower Frederick and Perkiomen townships.

Photo by The Posts