"It's their property and they can come and go," Schmidt said, noting that mud on the floors creates slippery hazards and conditions remain unsanitary. "All these houses still have water in the basements," he said.

Todd Bereda, emergency management coordinator, declared disaster conditions at noon on Wednesday as the rising Schuylkill threatened residents. "The creeks were rising but it's the river that's the real problem," Bereda said.

Bereda credited resident, Joseph LaPierre who brought four truckloads of stone and used a front-end loader to create an emergency access from Old Schuylkill Road to Route 724 when both ends of the residential street became impassable. LaPierre helped load cars with residents' belongings and helped elderly residents to make their way to higher ground before flood waters isolated them and prevented the exit of automobiles from Old Schuylkill Road.

In addition to Bereda, township Supervisor Walter Zaremba, Township Manager Mary Flagg, Paul Schmidt and Police Chief William Demski were on site Friday to facilitate efforts as residents attempted to salvage furniture and other items.

Homeowner Tracy Pederson worked with friends to remove mud and water from her house built in the 1830s. "We have power but I've chosen to turn it off," she said. She guessed that her house located near the Schuylkill River had likely survived "a dozen floods."

Pederson said of the old homes, "They weather better than a conventional house. That's the beauty of historic homes," she said. "They're built to last."

Bereda said Pennsylvania American Water Company had come out to put spigots on hydrants to provide clean water with which residents could wash and get water for cleaning.

"Some of the houses are not going to be habitable," Bereda explained, adding that residents would be allowed access only for cleaning and remediation efforts.

Police officers continue to patrol the street to prevent looting of items left outside to dry. "People who left feel comfortable that they don't have to worry about their belongings," he said.

Westmont Christian Academy offered shelter to displaced families but Bereda said that as of Friday afternoon, residents had been able to find accommodations with family and friends.

At 4 a.m. Wednesday, Old Schuylkill Road residents Bryan and Barb Jones began moving their furniture and other items from the first floor of their home to the second floor and to the attic. Bryan Jones said it's not unusual for the nearby creeks to close off the road once or twice a year. This time was different.

Wednesday afternoon they left via the emergency exit to Route 724, helping neighbors as they went. When they returned around noon Thursday, they found more than three feet of water in the first story of their home.

"We got a few valuables but when there's that much water, you can't really do anything," he said. Jones said his truck is in the canal behind his house.

Along the street neighbors and friends pitched in to help each other. "This street is like a family," Schmidt said. "They're like brothers and sisters; they never abandon each other."

As cleanup efforts continue, township police will provide extra patrols, Bereda said. Residents will be permitted back into their homes "on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Following remediation, all homes must be reinspected by the code enforcement officer. "It's up to the individual," Bereda said, adding that residents can work out their own timetables for refurbishing and moving back to their homes.

"These people are burdened with a lot right now," admitted Bereda. "We're hopeful there may be federal assistance," he said. Additionally, he said, he's hopeful that both businesses and individuals will be forthcoming with building materials and financial help for Old Schuylkill Road residents. Folks are in need of studs, drywall, nails, electrical and plumbing supplies, he said. Residents can also use additional manpower to help with rebuilding.

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