Tropical Storm Lee: A Photo and Video Retrospective

September 6, 2016 /

September 7th marked the 5th anniversary of Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.  While much of Eastern Pennsylvania was hit by heavy rains that week, Dauphin County was one of the hardest hit areas in the state.  Municipalities like Derry Township saw as much as a foot of rainfall within a few days, causing the Swatara Creek to crest at more than 26 feet (19 feet above its flood level).

As the retained engineer for many Dauphin County municipalities, HRG played an active role in responding to the floods: from surveying and inspecting the immediate aftermath to applying for funding from state and federal agencies for repairs to designing and bidding the repair or replacement of critical infrastructure damaged by the storm.

Today, the area has returned to business as usual, and local municipalities have made improvements that will better protect them against future flood events. This is thanks to the combined efforts of local officials, community and business leaders, and  local engineers (here at HRG and other firms around the region).

(Read our tips for protecting your municipality against flood damage.)

It may seem odd to celebrate the anniversary of a storm that brought so much destruction to the area, but that is not what we are celebrating today.  Instead, by sharing these photos, we celebrate the strength and resilience the community showed after Tropical Storm Lee and the progress we have made together.

Click on the arrows on the left and right side of the photo to scroll through the slideshow.

  • Flood waters rose so high in Central Pennsylvania during Tropical Storm Lee that certain roads were passable only by boat.

    People on boats after Tropical Storm Lee
  • HRG’s survey crews collected elevations of high water marks and existing water levels along the East and West Shores of the Susquehanna River. This information was used by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to analyze accurate flood stages and inundations.

    Surveyors collecting flood elevations after Tropical Storm Lee
  • Our survey crews navigated into high water areas, working day and night, to collect the information the Susquehanna River Basin Commission needed.

    Surveyors collecting flood elevations after Tropical Storm Lee
  • HRG’s bridge engineers were on the scene to inspect Dauphin County’s bridges less than two hours after they received notice that the flood waters had receded. (Shown here is a picture of the Duke Street Bridge submerged underwater.)

    Duke Street Bridge under water after Tropical Storm Lee
  • Within two days, we had inspected all 50 of Dauphin County’s bridges (and 15 bridges in neighboring Cumberland County).

    Bridge damaged by Tropical Storm Lee
  • Within 48 hours of completing inspections, we had prepared emergency repair plans and sent packages to contractors for bidding. Emergency repairs addressed erosion, pavement damage, and debris removal.

    Debris under bridge after Tropical Storm Lee
  • Once the Dauphin County bridge plans were prepared, HRG inspected 17 bridges for Londonderry Township. After that, we inspected 29 scour-critical, locally owned bridges throughout Dauphin County, at PennDOT’s direction.

    Londonderry Township bridge damaged by Tropical Storm Lee
  • HRG also inspected a collapsed culvert on Mansion Road for our client, Derry Township, and evaluated repair options. We then designed a new end-wall and repointed the head-wall.

    Mansion Road Culvert eroded after Tropical Storm Lee
  • HRG’s Civil Group navigated flooded areas for our many municipal clients throughout the county to provide critical services in their time of need.

    Hummelstown Rt 322 under water
  • These services included evaluating flood damage and then designing and bidding repairs. We also completed a rainfall and runoff analysis to brief municipalities on the magnitude of the storm.

    Rt 322 in Derry Township after Tropical Storm Lee
  • For cash-strapped municipalities, funding the repairs is just as important as design and bidding. Accordingly, we helped our municipal clients apply for aid from numerous programs designed to address storm damage.

    Gray house under water
  • HRG helped Londonderry Township, Lower Swatara Township, and Hummelstown Borough obtain Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds from FEMA to purchase and demolish homes destroyed by the flood.

    (Click here to read more about these projects)

    Interior of flooded home
  • We then helped the municipalities stabilize the areas with fill and re-seed them with new plantings in order to create open space. (By preventing new construction on this land, the municipalities protect against future property damage from flooding.)

    Re-planting after Tropical Storm Lee
  • Click here to read our tips for how municipalities can protect against flood damage.

    W Main Street in Hummelstown