County sets up center to help flood victims

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Flood victims line up outside of United Sports Wednesday waiting to meet up with county resources and community group to get help following Hurricane Ida.

DOWNINGTOWN — If you’ve been flooded out of your home, or suffered serious damage, Chester County officials are there for you and have set up an emergency center to find you the help you need now and help to rebuild later.

The center opened Wednesday at noon and will remain open until 7 p.m. at the United Sports Training Center (1426 Marshallton Thorndale Road) and will be open again Thursday, noon to 7 p.m. If you cannot attend in person, you can go to the Website to get much of the same information and register.

It is important for victims of Ida-related flooding to register — both to get immediate help with housing and food in the short term, but to begin the process to get into the FEMA and PEMA — the federal and state respectively emergency management administrations to be able to long-term assistance to rebuild or find a new home. Many county residents have been left homeless, others without power — and need immediate housing and food assistance. 

County officials said they wanted to get as many people as much help as possible — and thanked United Sports for offering the facility for two days, which allowed various government and community entities to create a “one-stop” solution for those in need.

County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz praised the residents of the county — noting how quick they have been to offer assistance to their neighbors, whether it be donating needed items or jumping to help remove ruined debris, calling it an “incredible sight” — despite the ongoing COVID crisis.

“With all we’ve been through that last two years, people are still stepping up,” she said.

And while more than 30 county and local organizations were on hand — and will be again Thursday — those are primary there to help with immediate needs. In the long term, officials said, it is going to take state and federal help to restore and rebuild what was lost in the historic flooding of last week.

Chester County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz addresses relief efforts for Ida, Thursday.

“This is the most significant flooding event we’ve had in my life time,” said Commissioner Josh Maxwell, the former mayor of Downingtown, just one location that was hit particularly hard by the flooding.

And while Coatesville, Downingtown and Caln got early attention for the flooding, it became clear that many other areas from West Grove to Oxford (which was hit by an EF-2 tornado, causing damage in the area where it hit), there were flooding issues in almost any part of the county near a river or creek — which is to say much of the county.

“Not one corner of our county was left unscathed,” Commissioner Michelle Kichline said. “And some of our neediest citizens have been displaced from their homes. We walked through our communities and saw mud on floors, personal belongings on streets.”

While there are resources for immediate need, it will likely be up to the state government — the legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf — to provide funding. Wolf toured some of the hardest hit portions of the county this past week. There is a state emergency declaration.

President Joe Biden already declared a federal emergency for New York and New Jersey, but not for Pennsylvania as of this writing, although data continues to be collected for that potential declaration. With hundreds of hundreds of homes severely damaged and more than $100 million in public infrastructure damage, according to estimates released by PEMA officials Wednesday, it is thought a federal declaration is likely in the coming days.

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