A year after Ida flooded their villages of Montco, Mont Clare and Port Providence celebrated community
In neighboring Montgomery County villages, Mont Clare and Port Providence, both destroyed a year ago by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, Saturday was a day of reconnection.
“Some of us weren’t there. Many of us have just moved back and we are showing off our new homes, our new restored homes,” said Gerrie Cirigliano, who was unable to return to her home in Port Providence until June.
The home that Cirigliano shares with her husband, Glenn Murphy, was the starting point for what has been dubbed a “refreshment crawl” along Port Providence Road and Walnut Street in Mont Clare. Mount Clare and Port Providence are in Upper Providence Township, across the Schuylkill from Phoenixville.
For residents, the day’s events, including a fun run on the Schuylkill River Trail and a potluck, provided an opportunity to reflect not only on the trauma of floodwaters and displacement suffered during months of life at the hotel, but also about the community that helped them through the storm.
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“What was amazing was how many people came together to help each other do everything,” said Don Frisco, who has lived in his Walnut Street home for nearly 60 years.
Rachel Poggi, who lives in Mont Clare, said she got goosebumps when she spoke of the help provided by so many people, including a couple from Phoenixville on Saturday.
“It really brought this little community together. It’s remarkable,” said Poggi, who hosted the Saturday afternoon potluck in his garden, which backs up to the Schuylkill Canal.
The sense of loss remains palpable. Next door, Poggi’s daughter’s house is waiting to be demolished. The kitchen floor collapsed and a corner of the house fell in, opening it up as if it were a dollhouse. Poggi said his son-in-law had a landscaping business and had to move because he couldn’t risk losing his equipment again.
Mont Clare residents David and Sarah Clark tried to find another place to live, but said they couldn’t find any place they loved as much as Mont Clare. “There’s nothing like it,” said Sarah Clark.
For many families, financial uncertainty remains.
Erin Hovoet said she and her husband, who moved their beds back into their home on June 30, are still waiting for their final insurance check. “We don’t know how much it will cost. It’s good that we’re home, but there’s always the financial stress,” she said.
It’s even worse for some neighbors who still haven’t been able to return because they couldn’t settle with their insurers, said Hovoet, who has 17 and 13-year-old sons.
When people ask her why she would go back to a place with all that water and the risk of flooding, Cirigliano says she couldn’t stay away.
“It’s nice to have the path, the river, the environment, the nature, the birds and the turtles, and we have all of that every day. It’s like heaven for us,” Cirigliano said.
“I actually renamed it Portopia,” she said. “It’s Port Providence, but I call it Portopia because of nature and how much we love it.”