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Jennifer Griffiths was home with her children Wednesday when flash floods turned a creek next to her North Codorus home into a raging river.

The water washed away part of her neighbor's fence and began sweeping garden boxes, trash cans and a wheelbarrow downstream.

Then the water began threatening Griffiths' home on Russell Lane.

"When the windows blew in the basement, I knew there was an issue," she said.

Griffiths was one of several residents firefighters evacuated from their homes Wednesday about 5 p.m. as heavy rainstorms flooded roads and homes in North Codorus Township, caused a basement to collapse in Codorus Township and flooded the Seven Valleys fire hall.

People watch from the Valley Tavern as flood waters from the South Branch of Codorus Creek surround the Seven Valleys fire station. (John Pavoncello Photo)
People watch from the Valley Tavern as flood waters from the South Branch of Codorus Creek surround the Seven Valleys fire station. (John Pavoncello Photo)

Disaster application: The damage was severe enough that North Codorus Township on Thursday morning was drawing up an application to be declared a disaster area, said township manager Joy Ann Strausbaugh. The hope is to get financial help for repairs.

"I've been here 19 years (as township manager) and I have not seen anything to touch this," Strausbaugh said of the flooding.

Five roads in North Codorus were still closed Thursday morning, including one that was still flooded, Strausbaugh said. Staff from other municipalities was called in to help with repairs to get the roads reopened.

Despite damage, no related injuries were reported in North Codorus, said Chief Warren Krout of the North Codorus Volunteer Fire Co.

Residents were evacuated from a home at 2790 Stoverstown Road, and rising waters and the threat of another storm caused firefighters to evacuate Russell Lane residents near Strickhouser Road, including Griffiths' family of five and residents from two other homes, said Assistant Chief Brian Thomas of the North Codorus Volunteer Fire Co.

A water rescue unit used a small boat to get Griffiths' children and the family dogs from the house to dry ground.

The Jacobus water rescue team escorts Jennifer Griffiths, her children and her dogs from their home on Russells Lane in North Codorus Township as flood
The Jacobus water rescue team escorts Jennifer Griffiths, her children and her dogs from their home on Russells Lane in North Codorus Township as flood waters run through pastures and low-lying homes Wednesday. (John Pavoncello Photo)

Worst: Neighbor Jake Myers, 56, of Russell Lane, said he's lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, but Wednesday's flood was the worst he'd seen.

"Never in my wildest dream did I think I'd see this," Myers said.

The small creek that runs beside Russell Lane had grown to about 100 yards across, swallowing the valley and flowing into the southern branch of the Codorus Creek.

Once the water reached the southern branch of the creek, the Seven Valleys Volunteer Fire Co. station, and the basements of several neighbors, began to flood. Several feet of water collected along Main Street at one point, firefighters said.

Assistant Chief Albert Buckingham said firefighters had to stage the fire engines on the north and south sides of Main Street to keep them out of the flood waters. The floodwater also rendered a bridge impassable and forced the closure of Route 616 between Main Street in Seven Valleys and Church Street.

Damage: Junction Road, which splits off of Route 616, was one of the most heavily damaged by the flooding, Strausbaugh said. Water tore off a guardrail and sheared away grading, leaving a massive - and very unsafe - roadside drop-off that forced the road's closure.

"The water on Junction Road, it was rolling around, it looked like Niagara Falls on one side," Strausbaugh said.""It was just chewing away very fast."

The water was so strong it picked up boulders and moved them downstream, Strausbaugh said.

She guessed road repairs would cost about $75,000 to $100,000.

The flooding was nothing new to the Seven Valleys, Buckingham said.

"Seven different creeks dump right into here," he said. "That is why it floods so much."

- Reach Brock Parker at 505-5434 or bparker@yorkdispatch.com.