Fast-falling rain floods roads during evening rush in Berks

Routes 61, 222 Business closed until water receded

ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. - A line of severe storms that moved across Pennsylvania on Tuesday made its mark on Berks County.

Heavy rain and strong winds left behind flooded roads and downed trees and power lines.

The flooding was bad enough to close two major arteries during the evening rush hour. Fast-falling rain made stretches of the Fifth Street Highway (Route 222 Business) in Muhlenberg Township and Route 61 in the Leesport area impassable until it slowed enough for the water to recede.

Luigi Giugliano's Italian Delight restaurant in Leesport was anything but on Tuesday night, as harsh rains filled the entrance to the parking lot.

"Usually, the flooding starts on the north side of the highway which is our side. As you can see the disturbance in the water is where it starts from," Giugliano said.

Where it starts from is one thing, but where it potentially ends up is quite another.

"It's been real bad this past year," Giugliano said. "This is the worst that I've seen it in the time that I've been here."  Luigi said the flooding impacts his business and his customers, like Tyler Gilfert, out for an evening bite and now in search of a dry route home.

"I have to go back by Sheetz, where they tore it down, but it's all flooded over there, too," he said.

It was a false alarm of a water rescue that brought Leesport fire out, but officials did have to go into traffic diversion mode.

"That's correct. That's what we're trying to do, just keep everybody safe and moving, even though they're unhappy," said Deputy Chief Ryan Kopicz, Leesport Fire Company.

Meanwhile, Giugliano stood by and waited for the waters to recede.

"Who knows?" he said. "It's kind of just a waiting game at this point."

Downed trees and power lines also forced fire police to close a stretch of Route 662 in Amity Township.

The storms did not seem as severe in Berks as they did in some other counties, including Lancaster and York, the latter of which was under a tornado warning Tuesday afternoon.

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