Frenchtown Flood June 28-30, 2006
Delaware River flood at the Frenchtown-Uhlerstown Bridge in Frenchtown, NJ


bridge with debris

click on the photo to view a short video
of this scene - water rushing under the bridge



After the Flood Followup - Cleaning and getting back to normal life along the river, plus further updates to these pages.

  • August 1 - After flood cleanup of debris on the bridge - costly and time-consuming. Could it have been prevented?
  • July 8 - new page - planning for next time
  • July 8 - Dealing with FEMA and your insurance company
  • July 7 - From Mayor Ron Sworen - Frenchtown Included in Federal Disaster Area due to Flood Damage
    and more IMPORTANT information for residents
    ...
  • July 7 - From MTP Video - http://mtpvideo.net/flood.html
  • July 7 - Web site traffic - over 6,000 displays of this page by Friday
  • Notice: The boro has placed four dumpsters in appropriate areas around town.
    River Road, Railroad Ave., Front Street & Lott Street.
  • To volunteer to help with the cleanup this weekend, Contact the Borough Clerk at Frenchtown Borough Hall or
    CONTACT WEBMASTER (subject: Frenchtown Cleanup) and we will forward your offer to the Boro Hall and get back to you with details.
  • Photos - new photos of Route 32 damage and Frenchtown cleanup coming soon.
  • July 3 - Fire Department photos added to website


Final Flood Report: 5:15 pm Sunday, July 2, 2006 - Frenchtown Bridge is OPEN

  • The Frenchtown-Uhlerstown Bridge across the (formerly flooded) Delaware River is now open.
  • However, PA Route 32 (River Road) north to Milford is NOT open - and will not be for quite a while. A large section of the road is simply gone...
  • PA Route 32 SOUTH is open - at least for the first few miles.
  • The road to The Uhlerstown Covered Bridge over the canal is NOT open; the flood washed out a 30-yard section and it will not be passable until some major excavation and paving work is done; same as after the last two floods.
  • We have added another aerial photograph of the Post Office and Trenton Avenue Area
  • Frenchtown.com's Flood Central Information page has been displayed 4500 times since it was first posted five days ago.

Update: noon Sunday, July 2, 1006

  • We have added a second page of 4 new aerial photographs
  • State Route 29 is now open from Frenchtown to Lambertville. "The whole route is open" according to NJ State Police.
  • The Frenchtown bridge is NOT open as of 1 pm Sunday.


Update: 9 pm, Saturday, July 1, 2006

  • Frenchtown bridge remains closed as of this evening, but could be open by early afternoon on Sunday - as soon as the debris removal is completed.
  • Bridge Street is reopened to the Frenchtown Inn.
  • Route 29 is still not open clear to Lambertville. Use State highway 12 and County route 519 or US 202 instead.
  • The Center Bridge in Stockton and the Bridge at Milford are open.
  • The Frenchtown Inn is open for Saturday lunch and dinner (but will be closed for vacation until July 12)
  • The Red Cross came to town with cleanup kits, bottled water, meals and support supplies for residents' cleanup needs
  • The Salvation Army showed up with a truck and volunteers and passed out home made hot sandwiches and drinks. Thanks!
  • The Frenchtown Post Office remains closed and is serving residents from the Milford Post Office
  • Most of the water has drained from flooded areas, and it did not leave as much mud and muck behind as the last time.
  • The Frenchtown Fire Company has pumped out many basements of most affected homes in need of assistance and will be finishing up tomorrow
Update: Friday 1:00 am 
  • After 12 hours at 33 feet, Rieglesville Bridge water level has dropped rapidly to below 21 feet.

Update:
Thursday 10:30 am
  • Rigelsville Bridge reached 33 feet at 9:30 am Thursday.
  • Route 12 to Frenchtown is closed at Baptistown. Traffic is being diverted via County Road 519.
  • News Center 4 Van just left town headed east. Watch for their reports on tv.
  • Floating propane tanks are a serious danger - watch out for them coming down the river, or banging around in your back yards...
  • Victor has offered the use of his gas-powered water pump. Contact webmaster for details.
  • The only two bridges open across the river are 202 at Lambertville/New Hope and 78 at Phillipsburg/Easton
  • Riegelsville Bridge crested at 33 at 8 am on Thursday, but, after 12 hours at 33 feet, has dropped rapidly to below 21 feet by 1:00 am Friday... On September 19, 2004, the Riegelsville bridge crested at 31 feet.
Update: Wednesday 10:00 pm:
  • 10:00 pm official bridge reading 21 feet.
  • Currently, the flood is expected Crest between noon and at 2 pm on Thursday - possibly as high as 30 feet.
First Report: Wednesday 12:00 noon, June 28, 2006:
  • According to the State Police, Route 29 between Lambertville and Frenchtown is closed, bridges at Milford, Stockton and Lambertville are also closed and "conditions are worse there" than in Frenchtown.
  • Bridge at Belvidere will be closed soon.
  • Frenchtown Post Office will be closed today. Staff and services are moving to Milford until it is safe to return.
  • At 8:00 am, the Frenchtown bridge to PA was closed.
  • At 9:00 am, the waters had reached 16.55 feet
  • cresting expected at 3 am Thursday
  • Riegelsville bridge (10 miles north) passed flood stage of 22 feet at 5 am Wednesday, was at 28 feet by 11 am and was rising at a rate of one foot per hour.

PHOTOS PAGES - Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

PLUS Contributed photos

Chronology:

  • The Frenchtown Bridge was closed at 8:00 Wednesday morning, June 28, 2006
  • Many homes south of Bridge Street were flooded by midday Wednesday. See aerial photographs for details
  • The flood crested slowly late Thursday and stayed at high level with the river flowing at over 50 mph, carrying debris from up north. This time, it was mostly trees and branches, but docks, canoes and lumber flowed past as well.
  • The river rose to within only a few feet of the bridge deck as of noon Friday, then began to slowly recede.
  • Maintenance crews worked Saturday and Sunday to remove debris from the bridge pylons.
  • The Frenchtown bridge reopened at 5 pm Sunday, July 2, 2006

Information for local residents:

Links we found or have been sent:



FAQ / Q & A from our incoming email:

Q: Is the bridge open yet?
A: Friday noon: No. Although the river is going down rapidly, and the bridges are no longer in imminent danger, the local bridges will not likely open until they are checked out for stability by the Bridge Commission and the roads on both sides of the river are open for normal traffic. We suggest anyone needing to cross the river use the Route 202 bridge at Lambertville/New Hope or I-78 bridge at Phillipsburg/Easton.

Q: Is Route 29 Open south of Frenchtown - as of Friday?
A: NO.
Although open for some stretches, Route 29 south of Frenchtown is still closed for much of the route between Frenchtown and Stockton. Route 29 at Byram is still under water, Stockton has suffered extensive flooding.
County highway 519 south from Baptistown (3 miles east of Frenchtown on Route 12) is open to Route 29 in Stockton, but may be impassable through Stockton itself. The water is receding rapidly, and most roads should be passable by some time over this weekend.

Q: I have some photos of Frenchtown - would you like to post them?
A: Yes.
Please contact the webmaster of Frenchtown.com Include titles and descriptions. I will post - and credit - all that I can.

Q: I heard reports about large fish swimming in the flood waters. Is that true?
A: Yes. Andy saw some in the flooded Frenchtown Inn Parking lot, Dave saw some swimming through a neighbor's garden, a Fireman I spoke to saw a large one splashing in the flooded roadway near the post office, I personally saw 4 very large - (20") carp in a flooded yard south of town. Yes. There were some very large fish swimming in the relatively still waters out of the main rushing river.

Q: Was anyone hurt?
A: Not that I know of.

Q: Are you paid to do this?
A: No.
Frenchtown.com is a voluntary community service.  However, if anyone would like to help defray the costs, donations are more than welcome and greatly appreciated - via PayPal transfer to alan@alanr.com subject: "In support of Frenchtown.com"

Q: When was this bridge built?
A: This 6 span Warren truss type riveted steel structure was built in 1931 on the original piers which were put in place in 1841. Although the original wooden covered bridge on this site was severly damaged during the flood of 1903, the bridge suffered little damage during the flood of August 1955 and no appreciable damage since then. It was restored/repainted a few years ago with modifications made to the roadway width and walkway.

CONTACT WEBMASTER


It's also time to begin planning for the next flood.
Flooding of the Delaware River is becoming all to familiar to us,
with three major 'fifty-year' floods in less than 22 months.

(but more about that later)
~~~~~~~


Messages to & from Frenchtown Residents

1:00 pm Wednesday: Message from a local resident
:
a request for HELP.

"My friends are looking for a temporary home for two coy (KOI) fish that live in Frenchtown. Until the river recedes, these fish must be evacuated from their pond on Trenton avenue and can go back to their original home/owners once river goes down.....If anyone can help...Please let me know.....They have been transported into a cooler for now."

update: "Red and Redder" - the Coy Koi of Frenchtown, are safe and sound and are enjoying their hotel room at the National hotel, only a few blocks from their home. We have received offers of assistance from Koi lovers and appreciate them, but for the time being, it seems as though they will be just fine. Their home was spared and they will returning to their pond as soon as the flood waters recede and their pond is properly cleaned and prepared for them. This is their third flood and they are getting used to it..

Watch these pages for photos and stories of Frenchtown's famous Koi who survived the last THREE Frenchtown floods...

Thank YOU!



Events:
The Frenchtown Bridge was closed at 8:00 Wednesday morning due to the fact that Route 32 in PA was already flooded and closed both north and south of Frenchtown.

At 9:00 Wednesday, The water level of the Delaware River at Frenchtown was 16.55 feet.
Official "Flood Stage" for Frenchtown bridge is 16 feet...
At 24 feet, Front Street and Railroad Avenue will be flooded.


Frenchtown Floods history:

flood
year
comment
27.9'
1955
Classic "50-year" flood *
24.4'
1903
Washed away part of bridge
23.6'
2005
Flooded parts of town, damaged homes
22'
1936
Flooded parts of town
22'
2006
Crested - officially "a major flood"

Current Situation
Wednesday
height
time
comment
16.5'
09:00
passed flood stage
21.0'
22:00
Sandbagging Frenchtown Inn

Thursday
height time comment
22'
 21:00
Flood waters are receding

Friday
height time comment

01:00
Water is receding rapidly

06:00
Cleanup begins

Saturday
height time comment

12:00
Bridge remains closed;
cleanup continues







NOTE: It appears that 'official' water level readings vary quite widely, depending upon the source, and cannot be fully relied upon. Suffice it to say, the water did not breach the old railbed, now known as the bike path or (popularly, but inaccurately as ) the 'tow path'.

That means that much of Frenchtown is safe - again. However, homes and buildings south of Bridge Street did suffer about the same inconvenience and damage as during the last two floods. ALL homes on the river side of the railbed are currently - and quite literally - "in the river" and under 5-6 feet of water.

This flood has exhibited an "extended crest" period - over a number of hours and is expected to continue to recede at this time.

See the past 24 hours flood chart from the Rieglesville Bridge - the closest monitored bridge to th
e north.

Old Bridge photo from Frenchtown Cafe


Old Frenchtown Bridge Photos can be seen at the  Frenchtown Cafe on Bridge Street.

The two western spans of this bridge, built in 1841, were washed away during the 24.4 foot flood of 1903.
These are the photos I took Wednesday morning - more to follow...


The Frenchtown Bridge was closed at 8 am today

The Frenchtown Bridge to PA was closed Wednesday morning at 8 am.

Frenchtown Bridge. The river is rising.

The Frenchtown Bridge 9:00 am Wednesday June 28, 2006
already above flood stage.



Paul confers with neighbors as his mailbox is engulfed by the river. The road's been gone for hours...

Paul, taking his third major flood very much in stride, confers with neighbors on his cell phone
as his mailbox is engulfed by the river. The road's been under water for hours...

photo by Alan Runfeldt June, 2006



  • Paul told me that shortly after this photo was taken, he 'pulled up' the mailbox.
    When I asked him why, he replied "Alan, this is MY THIRD MAILBOX!!  I'm not buying another!
    (3 floods=3 mailboxes)
  • FEMA officials showed up, but got lost driving along the bike path and asked a resident: "What's the name of this road?"
  • And this one - echoing the spirit of Frenchtown flood victims:
    "I have nine friends coming over to help clean up on Tuesday (July 4). We're thinking of getting a band."

"Sure. It might flood once every few years - or maybe even more than once in a year.
But I get to enjoy living here the other 360 days of the year, and I have no interest in giving this up".

- Paul Nichols, Frenchtown "River's Edge" Resident



Photos copyright Alan Runfeldt and Frenchtown.com 2006 but may be used with accreditation.
in other words, you my use them; Just tell'em where you got'em.
Thanks

PHOTOS PAGES - Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 top




Webmaster's disclaimer for the record:

Frenchtown is no more flood prone than any other Delware River town. In fact, we do suffer from flooding far less than some other communities along the Delaware, and the reason for publishing this information is not to scare folks away from Frenchtown as a place to visit or to live, but to give as complete a picture of events in our town as we can.

The floods of Sept 2004 & April 2005 were noteworthy events, and very dramatic, but the impending flood of 2006 is just too much to bear for some of our neighbors.


And, by the way... Support donations to help defray the costs of maintenance for Frenchtown.com can be sent to sent to our PayPal account c/o alan@alanr.com (subject Frenchtown.com Floods) and will be gratefully accepted.



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