Federal, state and local officials who met Friday to discuss impacts of the flooding that this week hit Lycoming County said two things will be needed for recovery efforts to be successful.
Time and money - and a lot of both.
Damage to the Lycoming Valley Railroad bridge spanning Loyalsock Creek in the Borough of Montoursville, the Route 973 bridge spanning the creek in Upper Fairfield Township, and state Route 87 and Wallis Run Road alone will cost at least $25 million, county Transportation Planner Mark Murawski said during the meeting, held at the Lysock View Complex in Loyalsock Township.
Murawski said an assessment was made Thursday evening during a flyover of the impacted areas.
"We saw sections of Route 87 and Wallis Run Road that are completely gone," Murawski said. "Just from an eyeball glance, we'll blow through $25 million easily."
Murawski said he expects more damage to roads and bridges to be found as the water recedes.
"There are many more (roads) under water. Once the water recedes we'll find foundational problems with bridges," he said. "Some, we may be able to repair easily. Others may be damaged to the extent we may have to replace them."
State Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, said a personal tour of impacted areas showed recovery efforts are not going to happen overnight.
"It's going to be months before some of this stuff is fixed," Yaw said. "It's not going to be a few days or weeks."
Murawski noted that the four Route 405-Interstate 180 ramps that provide access to the boroughs of Hughesville and Muncy are severely damaged and must be repaired immediately.
The railroad bridge is a concern because it is used by more than 30 companies, many of which provide materials for the natural gas industry.
The SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority, which owns the track and contracts with the North Shore Railroad to provide rail service to the railroad and four other short lines in central Pennsylvania, has inspected the bridge but, as of Friday morning, had not issued a report on its condition, Murawski said.
In the meantime, the authority plans to negotiate with the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which it already has arrangements with, to provide continued service for those companies, he said.
The meeting was held so county officials could update federal and state officials regarding the impacts of the disaster, said John Yingling, director of the county Department of Public Safety.
In attendance were Yaw; U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station; U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Howard; state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, county Commissioners Rebecca A. Burke, Jeff C. Wheeland and Ernie Larson, municipal officials and employees of county government.
Marino said there may be too much hope placed on a federal disaster declaration and the belief that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will come to the county's rescue. The agency is short on cash and being asked to provide assistance to many places, Marino said.
"The type of meeting we are having right now is going on in 100 places," he said. "I don't think FEMA is going to be the cure-all for this. FEMA will have some money available but not to the extent some people in this room and in the community think is available."
According to Yingling, the county's official transition from the rescue phase to the recovery phase began Friday with the convening of a disaster recovery task force. The task force is comprised of members of the county Emergency Management Agency, Planning Commission, Resource Management Service and Pre-Release Center.
The group will develop goals and determine what services it can provide those impacted by the flood, he said.
Yingling said the county has a lot of work to do.
"It's going to be busy," he said.
It was busy during the rescue phase of the disaster, as well, he said.
A total of 134 water rescues were made, there were 22 vehicle accidents, 21 fires and 185 requests for assistance. Overall, they received more than 1,000 calls from Tuesday through Thursday, Yingling said.
Some of the accidents and fires were not related to the flooding, but all of the water rescues were, he said.
The water rescues involved people who were either unwilling or unable to evacuate their homes, or who drove into moving water, he said.
Murawski acknowledge that there are county residents who are isolated due to the destruction of Route 87 and Wallis Run Road.
"We're waiting for the (state Department of Transportation) to give people guidance on which routes to take," he said.