Flood cleanup continues along the Wissahickon

The Friends of the Wissahickon and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation are in need of volunteers to help clean up damage from the storms and floods that the area has endured over the past few weeks.

Flood levels in the Wissahickon last week were believed to be higher than that of Hurricane Irene.

Maura McCarthy, executive director of Friends of the Wissahickon, said damage already caused by Hurricane Irene has made the situation worse. Volunteers are needed to do a wide range of clean-up tasks around the park.

“Our volunteers work on a variety of repair efforts including clearing the trails of trees and tree limbs, removing guardrail along Forbidden Drive, cleaning debris from pathways and filling up erosions sites,” said McCarthy.

Volunteer projects will mainly focus on Valley Green, where flood waters have damaged walkways, crushed trees and plants, eroded park benches, and exposed utility infrastructure.

“The Valley Green area was hit the worst and needs immediate attention.” said McCarthy, “We have areas all over the park that need to be attended to.”

Another site that needs urgent repair is Bells Mill Road, which has a combination of debris and other trail damage.

Friends of the Wissahickon is asking for donations, which will go towards rebuilding materials including machinery rental, hiring a mason to build new retaining walls and materials such as rocks, dirt and plants.

The Friends of the Wissahickon met with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Philadelphia Water Department last week to determine the best way to address these issues. McCarthy said they hope to recover much of the problem areas by the end of November, if not sooner.

“As a community, we have to realize that water patterns change and we’re in a particularly wet season,” said McCarthy, “There’s no guarantee that these issues won’t reoccur, and we need to continue to prepare for them.”

Friends of the Wissahickon have asked members to send in photos and descriptions of damaged areas. They believe the more involved the community is, the faster the restoration process can be finished.

Volunteer workdays will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more details, visit www.fow.org. To report damage to the park, e-mail office@fow.org

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