Survivors forded ‘chest-high water’

PHILIP A. HOLMES/Sun-Gazette A large dumpster filled with ruined construction materials sits at the back of the flood-damaged home of Ryan and Danielle Kane on Warrensville Road. When 6 to 8 inches of rain deluged the region in a matter of hours early Friday morning, the couple’s furnished basement was flooded by Mill Creek, which is behind their house.

WARRENSVILLE — Ryan and Danielle Kane were awakened early Friday morning by the incessant barking of their  11-year-old Shih Tzu, Jake. Attempts to hush the dog were unsuccessful.

“He was just getting more furious,” said Ryan Kane, a truck driver.

“I then began hearing stuff banging. I thought someone was in the house. I went downstairs, turned on the light and suddenly I saw 5 feet of water in the basement,” he added.

The couple now believes Jake may have saved their lives.

“He saved the neighborhood,” Kane said.

Mill Creek, which runs right behind the couple’s home on Warrensville Road, suddenly had filled the couple’s basement with a record 5 feet of water.

“I ran to the back door. All I could see was water all the way to the side of the mountain. I went to the front door and there was nothing but water to the guardrail,” Kane said.

It was wall-to-wall water, including the driveway.

“I called 911. I don’t think they even knew what going on yet. I told him, ‘Warrensville is under water,’ “ Kane said. This all took place about 1:30 a.m.

Kane picked up the dog and carried him under one arm while his wife grabbed a bag filled with dirty laundry. He kept ahold of Danielle with his other hand.

“I didn’t know then if I would ever get back in here again,” Danielle said Sunday afternoon when a reporter stopped at the house to talk with the couple and their 21-year-old daughter, Jamie.

“We didn’t know when the flooding was going to stop,” Kane said.

“We walked out our front door in chest-high water to the street,” Danielle said.

The couple’s bi-level home, where they have lived for less than a year, is slightly lower than Warrensville Road. The flood waters had not yet reached the road.

“Neighbors across the street saw us coming through their yard. They told us we looked like a couple of refugees,” Kane said.

The couple’s daughter was away at school on Friday but she later reunited with her parents.

“If I was here that night, I wouldn’t be here talking with you now,” Jamie said.

The basement was fully furnished with a family room and Jamie’s bedroom.

“She would have never gotten out of her bedroom. The water just came in too quickly,” her mother said.

On Sunday, as friends and relatives helped the Kanes with the endless task of cleaning up, Gov. Tom Wolf was down the road at the Eldred Township firehouse, meeting with other flood victims as well as local government and elected officials.

Among those attending the governor’s briefing was John Yingling, the director of the county’s Department of Public Safety.

“We’re still doing our initial damage reports. At this point, any numbers I would give would be very preliminary. We have at least five (homes) that were totally destroyed and an equal number that sustained severe damage. Another 30 with minor damage,” Yingling said after the briefing.

“Again, these are very early reports. We still have many municipalities out that are doing damage assessments. Concerning infrastructure, we have damages to both state and township roads as well as bridges,” he added.

“At this time, there are 60 people without power, mostly in the Marsh Hill, McIntyre Township, area,” Yingling said, adding the power company had hoped to return service to  everyone by late Sunday night.

Yingling said he spoke with several flood victims on Saturday who told him that “this was catastrophic, rapid flash flooding, and that they had never seen flooding like this before.”

The Lycoming County commissioners on Friday signed a disaster declaration, which was expected to be reviewed by the county solicitor today and possibly adopted on Tuesday, Yingling said. “That’s all pending,” he added.

Back at the Kanes, a large dumpster, filled with construction material and ruined carpet torn out of the couple’s basement, sits at the back of the home.

“That’s the second one,” Kane said. The first dumpster already was hauled away after it was filled with destroyed furniture and other personal possessions.

Tears swelled up in Jamie’s eyes as she leaned against her mother.

“It’s been miserable, traumatic,” her father said in describing what it’s been like for his family since Friday’s flash flood.

However, family and friends, including the Eldred Township Volunteer Fire Co., have given the couple a lot of support. Kane is a former fire company member, where he served for 14 years.

“People dropped off gallons of bleach, mops and buckets,” he said.

Just as a reporter was getting ready to leave, a friend pulled into the driveway with a car loaded with more cleaning supplies and necessities for the family.