Salem devastated by flash flood PDF Print E-mail

By Bonnie Prindle
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The final pieces for the spring version of Friday Night on the Square were being put into place Friday afternoon, when it started to rain in Salem.


A few hours later many people found their homes or businesses at least halfway underwater.

Salem received approximately six inches of rain in three hours, causing flash flooding throughout the area.

According to many witnesses, it took less than twenty minutes for the water levels to rise in Salem.

“I came down here and there was barely any water on Water Street,” said Salem resident Michael Sember. “Fifteen minutes later and it was all underwater.”

Semi trucks and gas tanks floated down the river towards the Main Street bridge.

Debris from the river tangled in a power line, causing the poles on Main Street to crack and threaten to fall. There were several explosions like fireworks as transformers blew, leaving many Salem residents without power.

“Mother Nature spilled her guts,” said John D’anna, a witness to the event. “People who have lived here 50 years have never seen anything like it.”

Emergency personnel worked through the night, keeping roads clear and waiting for the water levels to lower.

By Saturday morning, the YMCA was open to provide relief to those affected by the flood. The showers were open for anyone in need, and the Y was accepting donations of food and toiletries.

They were also cooking hamburgers and hotdogs to provide lunch for flood victims and workers. When the people in need could not come to them, they made deliveries.

Kristy Purlee, CEO of the YMCA in Salem, said that on Saturday, they had more people asking how they could help than people in need.

“But that’s great, that’s what makes our community wonderful,” she said. “It means we’re gonna be ok.”

Many groups and organizations were out Saturday and Sunday helping residents and business owners begin the cleanup process.