People continue to recover from October floods

MEGAN E. BLOOM/Sun-Gazette Joe Colucci, emergency management coordinator for Cascade and Gamble townships, gave the Sun-Gazette and state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, a tour of the areas of his jurisdiction that received severe damage from the October flooding. A resident’s car was swept away in the current and was found miles down the creek completely filled with mud. Behind the car are Everett, left, and Colucci, right.

TROUT RUN — A month after flash flooding in October destroyed homes and roads across Cascade and Gamble townships, the communities still are working to rebuild.

On Tuesday, Joe Colucci, emergency management coordinator for Cascade and Gamble townships, gave the Sun-Gazette and state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, a tour of the areas in the townships that were ruined by flooding brought on by heavy rains.

“All of these people have lost so much,” Colucci said.

People lost their homes, land and vehicles while the townships lost 68 percent of its roads and bridges, he said. The estimated road damage is between $800,000 and  $1 million.

Though the community is small, there was great devastation due to the streams and creeks overflowing dozens of feet beyond their creek beds, he said. The water was so powerful it was able to carry away sheds, cars and large mounds of rock.

Farmers’ crops were ruined and they possibly will not be able to use those fields in the future due to the destruction.

The multiple waterways typically range between 3 and 8 feet wide, but on that late Oct. 20 night some were over 120 feet wide, Colucci said.

Many of the streams weeks after the flooding are nothing more than a trickle of water running off the mountain among the wreckage. Across the townships, there are uprooted trees and massive piles of stone that were moved by the force of the water.

The homes in that area of the county never experienced flood water damage before, he said.

“These people are not in the flood zone, so most don’t have flood insurance,” Everett said.

The Wallis Run United Methodist Church, 9915 Wallis Run Road, is the designated evacuation center for Cascade Township, but it could not be used during the flooding because it took on water, Colucci said.

Evacuating residents were taken to Trout Run Volunteer Fire Co. instead.

The church had never flooded before until that night.

One of the five houses on Wallis Run Lane was owned by an 87-year-old couple. The property had two ponds, a camper, two sheds filled with tools and equipment, all of it destroyed. The home now is uninhabitable.

The couple’s driveway was wiped away and now is part of the creek. One of the sheds was the husband’s workshop, Colucci said. He lost thousands of dollars worth of tools.

A garage to a home on Wallis Run Road nearly had collapsed and a car was swept away by the current. The vehicle was found miles downstream packed with mud.

Around 25 homeowners on Butternut Grove Run could not leave their houses because the road was washed away, Colucci said. Vehicles could not get up the road the day after the flood. Crews had to travel in on foot to make sure the residents were safe.

Most of the recovery work will begin in the spring, but it will take years for the residents and township to rebuild what was destroyed, Colucci said.

He and Everett said one of the next steps in recovery in the area is to remove trees from the waterways to prevent further flood damage in the future.