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The non-profit group Friends of Old Annville published a new look at some old data recently with this chart of Swatara Creek flooding over the years (tap to expand).
Although Friends of Old Annville president Michael Schroeder said that the sample size was too short to draw any conclusions, it’s still an interesting look at the watershed’s history.
Although Swatara Creek lies outside of Annville, it can be used as a proxy for the Quittie, the Swatara tributary that crawls along Annville’s southern edge. (Schroeder is also the president of the Quittapahilla Watershed Association.)
Some areas of Lebanon County are still recovering from the most recent of these flooding events, which occurred in late July 2018.
The highest crest in recent memory occurred September 8, 2011 during Tropical Storm Lee. Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz has a video on YouTube that shows the peak at Swatara Watershed Park.
The highest recorded crest ever occurred June 1, 1889, during the same weather event that precipitated the Johnstown Flood. The front page of the Lebanon Daily News from that date discusses the Johnstown disaster and the unprecedented levels of the Quittie and Swatara.
The 1889 flood caused dams to break at Ellendale and Cold Springs and “several thousands of dollars” of damage, but judging from the Daily News, Lebanon’s attention turned immediately towards Johnstown. Mayor P. L. Weimer took to the paper asking the people of Lebanon to meet at the Court House to discuss how they could help.
Schroeder said that he has a personal interest in floods, having gone through that classic Lebanon County experience of a flooded basement. He was inspired to put the chart together after coming across the data while poking around the history of local bridges.