The storm swept through the area at the end of January, but scars from the damage it caused still are visible in local forests and at least one state park.
Right now forestry roads in Tiadaghton State Forest-District 12 are in rough shape. Most are passable, however, according to Terrence Brady, deputy press secretary for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Washed-out, damaged or closed roads will affect hunters who head afield for spring gobbler season, as well as other enthusiasts who seek the wooded areas for a little recreation.
Rain, snowmelt and frozen ground led to a sudden rise in the Loyalsock Creek and some
very high waters. Here, floodwaters obliterate a bridge that leads to the rustic cabins at Worlds End State Park on Jan. 25.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE
STATE BUREAU OF STATE
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE STATE BUREAU OF STATE PARKS/DCNR
Floodwaters lap at the edge of a picnic pavilion in late January at Worlds End State Park. Park officials say 18 picnic tables were lost during the high-water event.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE STATE BUREAU
OF STATE PARKS/DCNR
After the high waters shown in the top photo
receded, park officials were left with a heavily
damaged road leading to the rustic cabins
bridge at Worlds End State Park.
Jason Stellfox, forester with District 12, said roads in that area are not too damaged.
"We came out pretty good," he said.
Crews there are on time with yearly maintenance. Except for Ramsey Road, all roads are open.
But in District 20-Loyalsock State Forest, roads closed to the public are many - Mineral Springs, Shanersburg, Cold Run, Rock Run, Cascade, Cammels, Walker, Loyalsock, Dry Run and McIntryre.
Four roads recently opened up after they were determined to be "safe" by professionals, DCNR said.
Those using any of the roads in the area should proceed with caution and watch for heavy construction.
The heavy rains that swept through around Jan. 25, along with melt-off from some 20 inches of snow and the frozen ground, wreaked havoc on forestry roads.
"The conditions vary. Some of them are totally impassable," said Richard Glinski, Loyalsock State Forest district manager. "Basically all of the roads that are closed at this time are unsafe for one reason or another."
Culverts have been washed out and 3-foot-deep trenches have been carved by the run-off in some places.
"The ditchline is 2 feet further into the road and 2 or 3 feet deep," he said. "You could very easily upset vehicles. We can't just open those roads."
Some of the surfaces on semi-passable roads are washed all off to the bedrock, making it passable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Because the northern forests still were blanketed with snow, repairs will begin when conditions allow crews to gain access, Glinski said.
"We can't work in the muddy spring," he said.
However, minor repairs to a few forestry roads were made right after the damage was done.
Although these are temporary closures, some byways may be closed for quite a while.
"We hope to be able to reopen all these roads, but after evaluation we may decide to close some of them," Glinski said. "This will allow us to concentrate our limited resources and manpower on the more critical and heavily used district roads."
He said he knows that some of the roads won't be open for trout season and possibly spring turkey season either.
It is highly unlikely that the forestry department will receive federal funding to help with the repairs at this time, Glinski said.
"Our (state) department doesn't have a lot of money right now either," he said.
Officials are working on getting materials, examining bids and figuring out deliveries for materials.
The crew that makes repairs for the district is small, only five people, but they maintain more than 110 miles of road in District 20.
"We have a crew that is very small due to the personnel shortage and the hiring freeze," Glinski said. "It's going to be a long drawn-out process."
Spring rains and the pending meltoff from snow that remains on the ground deep in the woods has Glinski "very worried actually."
"We still have plenty of snow left in our forest and when we get this rain, it's going to melt all this snow and with the roads being damaged now, we stand to incur a lot more damage. Now, that is if the runoff is fast enough. If it's a slow rain, we might be OK," he said.
Drivers should not ignore the road closures. They are made for a reason - citizen safety, Glinski said.
"Until we open them to the public, people need to stay off," he added.
His crew already has witnessed drivers who ignore closure signs. They have had to pull out at least 10 vehicles after they became stuck in the debris alongside closed roads.
Camp or cabin owners are not exempted from the closures.
If there is a emergency at a camp or cabin, owners may alert the district office, Glinski said. Officials may give owners permission to go to their camps, but only for a limited amount of time.
A fine, along with court costs, are levied against those who violate orders of staying off of closed forestry roads.
Worlds End State Park
When the morning of Jan. 26 dawned at Worlds End State Park, it looked as though it was the set of disaster movie.
"The people in the cabins said it was like a wall of water that came down through," park manager William Kocher said.
The bridge that runs over Loyalsock Creek at the park was hammered by water from rain and snow meltoff.
"It is designed to flood (there) so the bridge doesn't get flooded out," Kocher said. "By Tuesday morning, we were like, 'This isn't normal.' "
The rapidly moving water ripped out about 86 feet of the road in that area, he said, and scoured the side of the road about 6 to 8 feet deep along the blacktop.
The Bureau of Forestry built a temporary shale road for a couple staying in one of the rustic cabins. That road was their only way in and out.
"We told everyone to expect the water to come up," Kocher said. "It seemed like it kept building and building."
Debris also dammed the creek. The water flow damaged the picnic, parking and beach areas. About 18 picnic tables were washed away or damaged beyond use.
A maintenance worker said the damage was worse than that which occurred during Hurricane Agnes in June 1972.
Roughly 200 reservations for rustic cabins have been canceled since Jan. 25, Kocher said, due to the road conditions.
An emergency contract has been awarded and work has begun to fix the portion of roadway that leads to the rustic cabins.
Kocher said the road and cabins were to have been reopened on Friday, March 19.
Other repairs also are beginning.
Everything should be up and running by Memorial Day, "we hope," he said.
Most parts of the park still are open.