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Flooding affects businesses throughout midstate (updated)

Bomberger's store owner Bob Resch, left, assists customer Tim Hollinger with supplies to accompany his purchase of a gas-powered water pump. Hollinger, who was combating rising water in his Warwick Township home, was the first in line when the Lancaster County store restocked pumps this morning. Photo/Amy Spangler

Several days and many inches of rain from Tropical Storm Lee are negatively affecting businesses throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Dauphin County

In Dauphin County, one of the biggest trouble areas is Derry Township.

Due to the unprecedented flooding, large sections of Hersheypark and ZooAmerica are under water. Pass offices are closed today, according to the park’s website.

Two of the zoo’s bison were euthanized before they drowned in the flooding, officials have confirmed.

Hersheypark is normally open on weekends after Labor Day. Due to the ongoing flooding concerns, the park will be closed this weekend, said Mindy Bianca, a spokeswoman for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co.

A preliminary damage assessment was not available.

Hershey Park Drive is closed and both the Pizza Hut and Wendy’s near the park are submerged.

Swatara Township-based Metro Bancorp Inc., which has several locations in the midstate, has closed some stores due to road closures from the flooding; the bank’s Palmyra and West Cumberland Street locations in Lebanon County have drive-through service, spokesman Jason Kirsch said.

The store at 600 Walton Ave. in Hummelstown is the lone Dauphin County site closed, he said. All three Lebanon County stores are closed.

The state Department of Transportation closed the eastbound Route 322 ramp toward the Hershey Medical Center at the interchange with routes 39 and 422 in Derry Township.

The medical center campus has been unaffected so far, spokeswoman Megan Manlove said. Some offsite clinics are opening later today, but the medical center’s Front Street clinic in Harrisburg is closed today and tomorrow, she added.

Derry Township has shut down its wastewater treatment plant, located at 670 Clearwater Road, as a result of flooding.

Harrisburg officials are gearing up for evacuations in the Shipoke neighborhood. Robert Philbin, a spokesman for Mayor Linda Thompson said PPL and UGI shut off power and gas service to 170 homes in that area between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. today.

The Susquehanna River at Harrisburg is expected to crest at about 29 feet at 2 a.m. Saturday, which is about 12 feet above flood stage, according to city officials and the National Weather Service.

More than 100 highways and streets are expected to be flooded and closed, including most of Cameron Street, parts of Front Street and the Interstate 83 ramps onto 2nd Street, Philbin said.

State offices and the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg also are closed to nonessential employees.

Also, PennDOT’s Riverfront Office Center at 1101 South Front St. is closed today and will remain closed through tomorrow due to flood conditions.

Capital Area Transit closes its Harrsiburg office on Cameron Street and canceled all fixed route and paratransit bus services as of 6 p.m. today due to expected flooding at its property and in the communities, spokesman Bill Parkin said.

CAT is in the process of moving its shop equipment and buses offsite, as well as its files and computers to the second floor of its building, he said. Services will resume next week following damage assessments in the communities and at CAT, he said. CAT provides direct bus routes to large area employers around the region.

York County

In York County, businesses are watching the rising Codorus Creek that runs through one of the most densely developed parts of the area.

Workers at York County Lumber Corp. just south of Route 30 have been pumping thousands of gallons of rainwater from the business’s loading dock area and some additional water from the warehouse since the rain began to fall this week, company Vice President Ed Garman said.

Now, the nearby Codorus is causing concern, he said. Earlier this morning, the swelled waterway was about two feet from the top of the bank next to his business, Garman said.

The bank is about 10 feet from the property line, he said. There isn’t much the company can do to stop it, Garman said.

Pumping gives the staff something to do because, as Garman joked, they aren’t selling much lumber in this weather.

The Codorus is at its highest levels in about 35 years after more than 11 inches of rain fell on the area in the past four days, according to an email message from Jeff Hines, president and CEO of York-based York Water Co.

No York Water customers were without service as of about 9:30 a.m. and water levels at the company’s reservoirs south of York were within spillway capacity, Hines said.

However, the York City Wastewater Treatment Plant reportedly was partially submerged, and customers served by the plant are asked to cut back on indoor water use to reduce the amount of water flowing toward the plant, according to the email.

The parking lot was flooded and the power was out this morning at Hellam Township-based Accomac Inn Inc., which does business as Accomac Inn & Events, said President Charlene Calvert-Campbell.

The restaurant along the river is closed at least through lunch on Friday, Calvert-Campbell said.

The business will decide Friday morning whether it will open for dinner service that evening and plans to update customers on its Facebook page, she said.

Employees this morning were loading food to store at another location in downtown York and readying equipment to stage at the family farm ahead of this weekend’s catering events, she said.

“It’s the old story: The show must go on,” Calvert-Campbell said.

Also, the contents of the business’s wine cellar have been moved to a higher location within the building, she said.

Lancaster County

RSS Distributors in Lancaster County is cut off from the surrounding area by floodwater blocking its access road, President Jim Miller said.

Operations at the East Hempfield Township facility have been shut down, with only a few employees answering phones and taking orders, he said.

The Air King warehouse in Lancaster County wasn’t prepared for the flooding, warehouse manager Charlene Mohr said. The Columbia business, owned by Chester County-based Lasko Products Inc., checked the storm drains before Hurricane Irene, but weren’t aware another storm system might affect operations, she said.

On Wednesday, the warehouse had access to only one loading dock because the others were flooded, she said. Workers have been delayed or need to leave because of flooding situations with their families, Mohr said.

Cumberland County

Cumberland County is better off than other places around the region and state, but it’s still advising residents and business to take precautions, said Megan Silverstrim, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Public Safety.

Most of the creek flooding is hitting residential areas and local authorities are evacuating as necessary, but some parts of the western Yellow Breeches and Conodoguinet creeks are seeing waters recede, she said.

“Right now it’s how nasty the river is going to get,” she said.

The county has issued nonmandatory evacuation recommendations to residents and businesses along the Susquehanna River in East Pennsboro Township, Wormleysburg, New Cumberland and Lemoyne, Silverstrim said. For updates on flooding, road closures and evacuations, see the county’s public safety blog.

The Cumberland County MegaMixer, planned for this evening at the Allenberry Resort Inn & Playhouse in South Middleton Township, has been rescheduled to Sept. 15 due to flooding in areas the resort uses for parking, in low-lying areas along the Yellow Breeches Creek, said Omar Shute, executive director of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. The group sponsors the mixer for local businesses each year along with the West Shore, Greater Carlisle Area, Shippensburg and Mechanicsburg chambers of commerce.

Management at the resort did not answer phones this morning, or immediately reply to email. Allenberry has recreational and other facilities along the creek.

Check later today for updates to this developing story.

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