Schuylkill River spills over its banks; car dealership flooded

Mayor declares disaster emergency for Reading; shelter established

Schuylkill River spills over banks; car dealership flooded

READING, Pa. - Rains and rising water have been caused headaches all across Berks County.

In Lower Heidelberg Township, just outside Wernersville, the creek that was once beside Eisenhauer Nissan suddenly ran through the car dealership.

"It was pretty scary actually," said Frankie Noll, a technician for Eisenhauer.

The staff at Eisenhauer Nissan was prepared for high water.  They moved the cars off the lot Wednesday night, but they weren't prepared for the rush of water that broke out the office window and trapped 17 employees inside.

"It just overtook the building so it seems like something gave way," explained owner Jodi Eisenhauer.

No one was hurt, but the office furniture floated outside.  Concrete in the parking lot buckled, and employee and customer cars, sitting parked, were pushed into each other.

"We had eight foot high walls that are gone, absolutely gone," said Keith Baker, an Eisenhauer employee.

In Leesport, water covered all four lanes of Route 61.

"I was so concerned about traffic this morning, I called the police," said Heidi Foster, owner of the nearby Tranquility Day Spa and Salon.

The road was closed, but some refused to heed the warning.

In Reading, Mayor Tom McMahon declared a disaster emergency.

"It allows us to be able to recapture some of the extra costs for police and fire and public works overtime," McMahon explained.

The city plans to have extra patrols near blocked streets and low lying areas.  The Schuylkill's expected to crest overnight.

"At 20.5's about feet lower than it was in 2006," said McMahon.

The city of Reading is asking people in the flood prone area to move their cars to higher ground.  The Reading Parking Authority has opened the parking garage at Front and Washington streets.  It will be open free of charge through the weekend.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at Reading High School, 801 North 13th Street, for people forced out of their homes by flooding.

Food will be available, and cots will be provided for those who must spend the night. Those seeking shelter should bring with them a pillow, blanket and toiletry items.

Animals are not permitted in the shelter. Those with pets should make arrangements with the Humane Society of Berks County or the Animal Rescue League.

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