Region continues to deal with flood cleanup, road closures

The rain may have stopped and the floodwaters receded, but the job of restoring damaged roads, bridges and homes continues.

Sullivan County was hit hard by the flash floods brought on by days and weeks of rain.

About one-third of the secondary homes and properties are in flood-prone areas, according to Joe Carpenter, director of Emergency Management Services in Sullivan County. In addition, several primary residences were destroyed.

“Lots of cabins have damage,” he said, “although injuries and loss of primary residences were minimal.”

“Flash floods are a scary endeavor,” he added

A private bridge along Mill View Park Lane was swept away during the flooding, leaving the homes in the area inaccessible except by tractor or backhoe, he said.

Chief Oil and Gas, which has been drilling within a mile of the properties in that area, is working with the state Department of Environmental Protection to obtain funding to repair the bridge. Carpenter said the company is doing it as a good neighbor activity.

Faith-based groups, such as Neighbors Helping Neighbors, as well as the American Red Cross are assisting with the recovery in Sullivan County.

Carpenter said they are still assessing the damage in his area.

“I think we’re one of the lesser told stories,” he said. He added Bradford, Columbia and Sullivan counties were the ones that suffered the most damage from the flooding.

Dave Thompson, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, agreed with Carpenter that the most damage from flooding was incurred in the counties north of here.

“There was a lot of damage in Bradford County,” he said.

However, two roads in Lycoming County still are closed and long-term detours are in place. Lower Barbours Road in Plunketts Creek Township and Chippewa Road near Muncy are both still not opened to traffic.

The highway department is working at repairing the bridge at Barbours.

Thompson noted PennDOT crews have completed damage assessments and bridge inspections, as well as short-term repairs.

“There is more work to do, however, and numerous roads in the district remain closed,” he said.

“It’s helpful that the rain has stopped,” he added.

He noted that it was difficult when three flooding events happened in a very short period of time.

“The PennDOT staff really stepped up to the plate during this time,” he said. “All the departments and the county maintenance departments put in a lot of hours and worked weekends to get a handle on the situation and move our flood efforts forward.”

In Lycoming County, a $790,000 contract to stabilize the embankment along Route 87 just north of Route 973 in Plunketts Creek Township and a $81,500 contract to stabilize Route 220 and prevent the stream from jumping the embankment near Glen Mawr, according to Thompson. Work on the Route 87 project began this week.

More than 60 plans for contracts will be advertised within the next few weeks for repairs related to the flooding, he added. Contracts for debris removal on bridges in Columbia, Montour, Lycoming and Sullivan counties are expected to start soon.

The state highway department reports there are 24 roads closed due to flood damage and many other roads that are open but require various levels of repair.

PennDOT announced it may be necessary for its personnel or contractors to enter private property in order to carry out the emergency repairs necessary to protect damaged highways and bridges and to reopen closed roads. It is urging property owners to cooperate in order to expedite the recovery.