Bloomsburg Hospital Staff Saves ER From Flooding

Chuck Andreas, Director of Security, Bloomsburg Hospital
Chuck Andreas, Director of Security, Bloomsburg Hospital

As Tropical Storm Lee rained on Bloomsburg, people worried about water rising from Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna. What would happen to the low lying areas of the community? No one gave a thought to the higher ground. Four employees of The Bloomsburg Hospital: Chuck Andreas, Scott Tanner, Brad Lurowitz, and Rick Millheim discovered that water from above is just as threatening as water from below. Their efforts in the early hours of Tuesday morning prevented the water running off the the hills above The Bloomsburg Hospital and into the Emergency Room.

Andreas, Director of Security for the hospital, recalled, “I got a call from a guard at 2:30 in the morning saying excessive water was running off of the hills, over the helipad, and approaching the ER area. Water was probably within an hour of entering the ER if no action was taken.”When Andreas arrived at the hospital he saw the danger immediately. “There was 2 ½ – 3 feet of water running across the helipad. And it wasn’t just water. It was mud.”Andreas, along with maintenance crew Tanner, Lurowitz, and Millheim, worked through the next few hours using whatever was at hand to prevent water and debris from entering the hospital. “We didn’t have any sandbags,” Andreas explained, “so we used bags of road salt [used for winter de-icing] and made a dam out of those.”

Pieces of lumber, plywood, and whatever else was on hand were also used to direct the water away from the emergency rooms and down Hospital Drive instead. Throughout the early morning hours the crew worked to keep the hospital emergency entrance clean and dry.

Although the dam didn’t look like much, Andreas said it served its purpose well. “The dam … it held. It held.”

Bloomsburg Hospital Emergency Room Entrance
Bloomsburg Hospital Emergency Room Entrance

With the dirty water diverted, the security and maintenance teams worked to help solve another problem: getting clean water into the hospital. With clean municipal water no longer available, tanker trucks began arriving every four hours.  “Sprinkler systems, sterilization, cleaning, all that needs water.” Andreas estimated that 25 deliveries of clean water were made by truck, in excess of 30,000 gallons: “We had one truck parked, where the clean water was held, and new deliveries were then pumped into that tank.”

Throughout the morning and in the days that followed, Andreas reported that at no time was Bloomsburg Hospital without clean water or electricity. “We kept the generators running. We ended up staying about 25 hours that [first] day.”

When asked how the hospital was running at present, Andreas answered, “Things are better, getting back to normal. They pretty much are like they were before. It was the unity of security and maintenance that pulled us through. It was quite an evening.”

Originally published in The Bloomsburg Daily

5 Comments

  1. Derek,
    Thank you so much for your excellent article about our wonderful staff here at Bloomsburg Health System. I had no idea you had this daily posting. I will now faithfully “tune-in” to read your stories. Take care and again, thank you for the recognition of our “continually-goes-above-and-beyond-staff!

    Mary Howe
  2. Thank you, Mary.

    Comments like yours and Annette’s make me very happy to be a part of this project. It’s not surprising that you didn’t know about this beforehand – we’re barely a week old! In the wake of the recent flood, however, I and everyone at The Bloomsburg Daily were discouraged by the lack of openly available, readily accessible news, and we decided to make a commitment to change that.

    We are more than happy and very willing to let the community of Bloomsburg know what is happening around them. It’s become our passion.

    Bear with us as our website continues to grow. Comments anyone makes may not appear right away because we are still training our spam filters, but be assured we will approve all non-advertising comments as soon as possible.

    Please spread the word of our efforts, and encourage people who care about our hometown to read, comment, Like us on Facebook, and even write for The Bloomsburg Daily. It’s the effort of the whole Bloomsburg community that will make this site a valuable resource for all of us.

    1. Anita, I was amazed that even though I work there at an office building at the hospital campus I did not know of all the heroic measures that all of you were doing. i was absorbed in the work of the work of the visiting nurses and the hsopice team , which, my son asures me, will be posted on Thursday.

      Jane Gittler
  3. Our entire Maintenance Department, Melvin Martz, Bonnie Hess and the Nursing staff and Food Service personnel are to be commended for keeping the hospital functional throughout a very rough few days. Little did the public (or even some of our own employees) relize what efforts were being put forth to keep us “afloat.”

    Thanks for the recognition.

    Anita Heizer

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