Heavy downpours evacuate Harrington residents, knock out Milford power

A few residents were evacuated from Heritage Manor Apartments in Harrington on Thursday evening after floodwaters entered their apartments. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON — Intense rain and ensuing flooding brought the evacuation of 12 residents at an apartment complex, along with a resident found in cardiac arrest late Thursday night.

According to Harrington Fire Co. Deputy Chief Kenny Brode, the woman in distress was transported from the Heritage Manor Apartments to Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus, in Milford and her condition was unknown as of late this morning.

Heritage Manor resident Star Lewis described the experience as a “nightmare” and said, “You’re sitting there one minute and see water coming in, then it starts to rise on your living room floor, and within five minutes, your entire apartment is covered in water.

“It was pretty devastating and scary.”

Ms. Lewis, who has lived in her apartment for five years, said all her furniture was damaged by water along “with anything else I couldn’t grab off the floor. I lost books, things I’ve had for years, antiques.”

This afternoon, Ms. Lewis said she returned to her apartment but was unsure what would come next. Water reached every room in the apartment, she said, and added that several other residences “pretty much had the same type of damage mine did.”

A person who answered the phone for Heritage Manor Apartments declined comment today.

This morning, the Harrington Fire Co. posted a message on its Facebook page that read: “We want to encourage everyone in our area today to use caution while traveling in some areas due to water still across the roadways after the inclement weather last night. Some roadways in town are still impassible for smaller vehicles. Please do not attempt to pass through the areas and take an alternate route. Be safe.”

Heavy water was seen on Commerce Street and Farmington Road late this morning, and West Street had some flooding.

A girl walks in floodwaters on West Street in Harrington today. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Deputy Chief Brode, also a Harrington Police Department captain, said the fire company’s duty officer initially received a call from a resident at around 11:43 p.m., reporting that water had entered her apartment located on West Center Street.

The duty officer arrived and then called for assistance. Two Harrington officers came on scene, along with 15 to 20 fire company members, fire police and Kent County paramedics, Deputy Chief Brode said.

While some residents opted not to be evacuated and to shelter in place, the dozen who opted to leave were transported to the Harrington Fire Co. for safety purposes.

Delmarva Power arrived and shut off electricity to the complex to avoid hazards.

American Red Cross of Delmarva responded by 4:30 a.m., and the last residents had left the fire company by 5:30 a.m. for temporary lodging, Deputy Chief Brode said. He described the residents at the apartments as mostly senior citizens, some with health problems.

As of this afternoon, American Red Cross continued to provide shelter, food and beverage for eight displaced residents from the 32-unit complex, executive director Theresa Young said. American Red Cross was also making virtual health checks for apartment residents, she said.

According to Deputy Chief Brode, water reached inside 12 to 15 homes.

Two dogs were also evacuated at Heritage Manor Apartments.

Assistant Chief Dan McLaughlin was the officer in charge.

At around 1:30 a.m. today, first responders also were called to Clarks Corner Apartments in the unit block of Park Brown Road for reported flooding, though no evacuations were needed. Deputy Chief Brode said a parking lot and grassy areas around the complex were flooded.

Deputy Chief Brode said the quick response showed the volunteers’ commitment to the community, considering “it was late at night, the weather was bad, it was raining, and they arrived not knowing how long they would be there. Many of them had to get to work in the morning but didn’t hesitate to show up and help.”

The flooding occurred after a 60- to 90-minute torrential downpour, according to Deputy Chief Brode. He said it had been 10 to 12 years since the area had been affected by such rising water and necessary evacuations.

Milford power outage
In Milford, City Manager Mark Whitfield said that for a period around 10 p.m. Thursday, “pretty much the entire town” was out of power.

“We were able to get power restored to most everyone,” Mr. Whitfield said this morning. “We still have some pockets of outages that we’re still dealing with.”

Those pockets included some important locations.

“We’re still running on a generator at our public works facility,” Mr. Whitfield said.

He said he had heard that Milford’s Walmart and Food Lion locations had to throw out some food because their freezers and refrigerators were down for an extended period of time, but he had not confirmed that with either store.

“We had five poles that got knocked down on Airport Road, and that’s a primary distribution line,” Mr. Whitfield said. “We had to rebuild that section of line in the middle of the night last night. Crews got done with that around 7 o’clock this morning.”

He said the downed poles “knocked out the substation” and that crews “were able to reroute some of the electricity and get parts of town back on until they redid this pole line.”

According to Casey Staheli, the senior manager for Walmart’s National Media Relations Department, “Our Milford store has been open and operating as regularly scheduled following last night’s storm. Customers can expect to find desired items as we worked quickly to replenish affected areas due to a temporary power outage.”

Mr. Whitfield said the Perdue chicken plant in Milford also lost power around 10 p.m. Thursday but that it was restored by midnight.

“Street crews dealt with numerous trees down and street flooding, with the worst of the street flooding along Wilbur Street next to Simpson’s Crossing subdivision,” he said.

Mr. Whitfield added that the Shawnee Acres pump station failed Thursday night in the midst of flooding.

“Causes for the failure are still being investigated,” he said.

The Washington Street and Truitt Avenue pump stations were also running overnight.

The “Truitt Avenue pump station had both pumps running for eight continuous hours,” Mr. Whitfield said, when “normally, one pump runs for about four hours during the night.”