It’s been a little more than six years since consistent heavy downpours swelled the neighboring Schuylkill River and subsequently flooded our historic site. We remember well the impacts of Tropical Storm Lee, and Katia which hit in 2014. Last week, as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias, the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center flooded again.
On Tuesday, August 4, at 11:00 pm, the Schuylkill River crested at almost 13.5 feet, 7 feet above normal. Unfortunately, the early warning system failed, preventing staff from implementing our emergency protocol plan to move items to higher ground. The speed of the waters, calculated at 74,000 cubic feet per second, caused severe damage, leaving our offices and lab, equipment, storage areas, materials, files, and personal belongings, decimated. Normal river flow at the same time is 6,000 cubic feet per second. With just under seven feet of water in the lowest areas, including the Freshwater Mussel Hatchery, it is impossible to predict when we will be back up and running.
We have received numerous phone calls and emails from our concerned friends and supporters, and we are so very appreciative.
Hopefully, over the next several days, we will be reaching out to you for help inidentifying and sorting salvageable items, removing debris inside and outside the Center and general cleaning – all while adhering to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
As the situation develops we will post updates.
Here are some images of the damage.