NW Philly cleans up after Irene

Businesses and residents along Main Street, Kelly Drive and River Road are digging out of the mud and excess water from this weekend’s powerful hurricane.  NewsWorks is checking in on those clean-up efforts in the area and posting information on this blog throughout the day. Stay with us for complete coverage. If you have any photos or stories you’d like to share, please send them to newsworks@whyy.org or post a comment at the bottom of this article. 

Update 6:34 p.m. NewsWorks contributor and East Falls resident Brian Hickey has filed this essay on how Irene brought out the best in people this weekend. 

Update 6:20 p.m. NewsWorks’ Aaron Moselle chatted with those impacted by this weekend’s flooding for the NewsWorks Tonight radio broadcast but he also had this from the Bayour Bar and Grill. 

Despite weekend flooding along Main Street, the Bayou Bar & Grill was open for business Monday.

Bartender Liam Wynne said the restaurant’s position on the commercial corridor helped save it from storm damage.

“We were bone dry the whole entire time. There was no flooding in our basement,” said Wynne. He added that the bar was even open Saturday night, when Hurricane Irene started to creep into Philadelphia.

“We had pretty much a full bar the whole entire night,” said Wynne. “There were a lot of brave people.”

Update 6:10 p.m.  Residents of Venice Lofts on Venice Island are still waiting to get back into their apartments off of Leverington Avenue. A spokeswoman with Dranoff Properties says they are still in clean-up mode and will let residents know when they are allowed back in. Here’s more from NewsWorks contributor Bernard Scally. 

Update 4:55 p.m. And here’s the video we promised of the storm’s aftermath on Main Street by NewsWorks videographer Kimberly Paynter.  

Update 4:25 p.m. Here’s a video of Kelly Drive back in action from NewsWorks contributor Brian Hickey. 

Update 4 p.m. NewsWorks videographer Kimberly Paynter is finishing up a video of Manayunk clean-up efforts with quotes from the owners of Mad River and G.J. Littlewood and Son. Stay tuned for a link to that.  

Update 3:05 p.m. NewsWorks contributor Janis Chakars alerted us that the SEPTA Norristown/Manayunk line has resumed service

Update 2:45 p.m.  From NewsWorks contributor Bernard Scally.  A spokesperson for Dranoff Properties, owner of Venice Lofts off of Leverington Avenue, has stated that they are unsure when evacuated residents will be allowed back in to their homes.

“We are still assessing the damage and continuing clean up efforts. When we are finished, we will let residents know as soon as possible,” said the spokeswoman. She declined to comment on how often the building had been evacuated since its completion in 2007.

Update 2:25 p.m. Though the water at Mad River reached higher than co-owner Max Tucker’s head, he says the damage from Irene could have been worse: “We look at ourselves as being very fortunate right now.” Lipton said Manayunk is doing great, all things considered. “We love being by the river,” she said, “but when you’re by the river you have to give the river its due.”

Update 2:05 p.m “The City of Philadelphia has done champions’ work; the street is clear the mud is removed,” Lipton told reporters. She says the Manayunk Brewery and Mad River are the only two businesses still impacted by floods, but both expect to re-open later this week as the rest of Main Street is in drying out mode. “This was a little bit worse than last September,” she said, “but not the record numbers we were expecting.”

Update 1:55 p.m. “Manayunk has survived yet another blow from mother nature,” Manayunk Development Corporation Director Jane Lipton said during Monday’s press conference. “Not only have we survived it but we’re doing quite well. Main Street is open from end to end.”

Update 1:20 p.m. NewsWorks Contributor Brian Hickey just posted this update from the Streets Department. 

Update 12:30 p.m. Just spoke with a resident of Venice Lofts near Leverington Avenue in Manayunk. He said residents are being told to come back tomorrow as crews are clearing out mud and debris from the street and parking lot. Photos to come. 

Update 12 p.m. The Manayunk Development Corporation will be holding a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today to discuss the rapid response to flooding in the neighborhood.  NewsWorks will be there. 

Update 11:53 a.m. From NewsWorks contributor Brian Hickey. As co-owner of Mad River Bar & Grille, Max Tucker has heard the old “irony of the name in a storm” joke so many times that he says “tell me the one about the chicken and the road” instead.

It was easier to make light of yesterday’s Hurricane Irene flooding today, though. “An extra foot would’ve meant some major damage,” he said.

Instead, he was in the middle of a day of cleaning and sanitizing the inside of a building that had to close early on a Saturday night. Though they’re used to floods by now – it’s the nature of the business when you have a bar in the low-point of Manayunk, he explained – he feared for the worst but lucked out thanks to an earlier river crest and less water than projected.

“It’s a scary feeling, very helpess when the river is coming in at such a rapid pace,” he said. “We’re feeling really good right now.”

Update, 11:30 a.m. From NewsWorks contributor Brian Hickey who stopped by a new shop slated to open at the intersection of Main Street and Shurs Lane in a few weeks. Leo Galliani is from Northeast Philly, so he begs forgiveness for his “live and learn” approach to Main Street flooding. He’s in the process of opening Yunk Hamburgers and Pizza at the corner of Shurs and Main. There’s a big “Coming Soon!” sign visible under the hurricane-tape “X” on the front window.Monday morning, he was sanding the door and considering himself lucky. Despite his worst-case scenario fear of complete first-floor flooding that could’ve decimated the equipment and wiring inside, the water didn’t breach the top step leading into the building.

“Another two feet, and we would’ve been in trouble,” said Galliani, who arrived at 6:30 am Sunday.

As for whether the Hurricane Irene flooding meant the shop would be coming less than soon, he said, “Not at all. We’re still just a couple weeks from opening our doors.”

Update, 10:45 a.m. Main Street and Kelly Drive are back open. Philadelphia Water Department crews are out pumping water out of houses on Main Street at Shurs Lane.

Brian Hickey says pumps were churning and workers were pushing water around inside Manayunk Brewery on Main Street. Inside were pull-up-your-pantleg puddles despite sandbags and equipment deliberately overturned to stop the water. 

A manager was out on the deck, talking on his cell phone with the river behind him. With so much going on around him, he was understandably short on discussing the predicament. “Not right now,” he said. “Come back when we’re all cleaned up and I’ll have all the stories you want.”

Update, 9 a.m. From NewsWorks contributor Brian Hickey.  

Last night, Gov. Corbett and Mayor Michael Nutter chose Kelly and Midvale as the site of their post-hurricane public address on flooding. 

By 9 a.m. today, however, the water had receded, making Kelly Drive visible again. Granted, there was mud all over the path and the grass was more a marshy cushion than anything else, but people returned to walking, jogging, biking and sitting along the Schuylkill River.

Blythe and Taylor Davenport sat on the steps leading down to the river between Midvale and the Falls Bridge. Blythe explained to young Taylor that where they were sitting was completely underwater a day earlier. Taylor noticed a dead fish on the grass that didn’t make it through the flood.

Across the street, a firefighter hosed off their back driveway along River Road until the bell sounded to summon them to a call.

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