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Woodlayne ‘on notice’ over flood issues: Borough has to replace electric meters again, will not do it for free

By Dan Miller danmiller@pressandjournal.com
Posted 8/9/17

As was the case with some other nearby residents, the flooding from 4.7 inches of rain on July 23 was worse for the Woodlayne Court apartment complex in Middletown than from Tropical Storm Lee in …

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Woodlayne ‘on notice’ over flood issues: Borough has to replace electric meters again, will not do it for free

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As was the case with some other nearby residents, the flooding from 4.7 inches of rain on July 23 was worse for the Woodlayne Court apartment complex in Middletown than from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

The record rainfall of July 23 caused street flooding that poured an estimated 5 feet of water into the basement of Woodlayne Court at Wood and Wilson streets.

The equipment that provides electricity for the 49-unit complex is housed in the basement, so it was necessary to shut off the power and to evacuate Woodlayne Court’s 150 residents.

Four days later — Thursday, July 27 — the power was restored and the complex manager was telling residents they could move back in, said Jean Heffelfinger, who lives in an apartment on the fourth floor of Woodlayne Court.

Borough Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach confirmed that residents could move back in on July 27 after repairs had been completed to the electrical system in the basement, including drying out electric panels and replacing breakers.

The borough also had to replace the electric meters, Wilsbach said.

Calls seeking comment from Penrose Management Company, which manages Woodlayne Court, were not returned.

Heffelfinger has lived in Woodlayne Court since August 2003. She remembers being here during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. But the water in the basement wasn’t as high then as it was on July 23, she said.

Woodlayne Court also was not evacuated in 2011. Heffelfinger said her sister moved in with her in Woodlayne Court briefly in September 2011, after her sister had been flooded out of her residence.

This time the situation was reversed — Heffelfinger was flooded out and had to move in with her sister for a few days.

While flooding from Lee in 2011 was much worse over the area in general, Wilsbach agrees that it was worse this time for Woodlayne Court.

“With Lee the street flooding was not as bad. Lee got us with the creek and the river,” Wilsbach said — neither of which were a factor in the flooding that occurred on July 23.

This is the third time that the borough has had to replace the electric meters at Woodlayne Court due to flooding, Wilsbach said.

The first two times the borough replaced the meters at the borough’s own expense.

“This time we plan on charging them” for the meters, Wilsbach said, referring to Woodlayne Court. “It (flooding) is becoming a common occurrence. The taxpayers can’t be eating money for that kind of stuff.”

Wilsbach didn't have an estimate for what it cost the borough to replace the meters at Woodlayne Court this time.

The borough is putting Woodlayne Court “on notice” that a solution needs to be found to prevent the electrical equipment from being flooded out again, Wilsbach added. “Luck is not on our side” with the way it keeps raining.

Heffelfinger said that Middletown police and firefighters knocked on the door of her apartment at about 11:15 p.m. on July 23 and told her that she had until midnight to get out.

She took her cat, and that was about it. She didn’t take any of the food that she had in her freezer and refrigerator.

Residents were allowed back into their apartments the next day to retrieve anything they wanted to take out, but Heffelfinger said she wasn’t able to salvage any of the perishable food.

But “the only thing we all lost was our food,” because none of the apartments themselves were flooded, Heffelfinger said.

She has renter’s insurance, but the loss was less than her $500 deductible, so she didn’t file a claim.

Most of the residents who live in Woodlayne Court all year have moved back in, Heffelfinger said. A number of the apartments are leased to Penn State Harrisburg students who usually aren’t here most of the summer, she added.

Also, two disabled residents on the second floor had not moved back in because the elevator is not working. As a result Heffelfinger and the other residents can’t use the washers and dryers, because the only access to them is via the elevator. So for the time being, Heffelfinger is making due going to a laundromat.

She said Woodlayne Court has done the best it can in dealing with the situation.

Restoration companies and repair people were at the complex in force the morning after the flooding on July 23, and she feels that workers have been trying to get the building back on line as quickly as possible.

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