(EDITOR'S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette starts a five-day series marking the one-year anniversary of Lee's devastation.)
It began with a single raindrop.
And it caught many people off guard.
This photo illustrates the extent of flooding of the Loyalsock Creek as it enters the Susquehanna River at Montoursville. Note the runways under water at the Williamsport Regional Airport.
By the end of a three-day event that began one year ago today, massive amounts of water had forced people from their homes, carved up paved highways and ripped away bridges.
It also brought together a caring and compassionate community who would not stand by idly while their neighbors' lives were dismantled and washed away by Mother Nature.
As the first drops began to fall, it signaled the end of a drought watch that had been developing. But it also was cause for concern, with John Yingling, director of the county Department of Public Safety, cautioning that the rain could result in some of the worst flooding the area had seen in an already wet 2011. Yingling predicted a "significant" river event. While the city was spared, the river downstream crested higher than flood stage at Muncy and Montgomery.
8.58 inches total
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service predicted the Loyalsock Creek at Loyalsockville would rise to slightly more than 10 feet, or 2 feet below flood level.
But then fell an unprecedented 8.58 inches of rain, including 7.55 inches during a 24-hour period between Sept. 7 and 8, according to the weather service. Single-day records of 6.76 and 1.03 inches were set for Sept. 7 and 8, respectively.
Within a few days, the Route 87 corridor along the Loyalsock Creek was devastated to the point that many said it resembled a war zone. So, too, went the Slabtown Bridge near Loyalsockville when raging waters washed it out.
It wasn't just the Loyalsock that caused troubles. So did rising waters along Muncy and Lycoming creeks, as well as other small streams in the area.
During the period of flooding, the 911 call center dispatched crews to 134 water rescues, 22 motor vehicle crashes, 21 fires and 185 other alarms such as downed trees, traffic control and odor investigations.
At the flooding's height, 250 roads were closed throughout six of the state Department of Transportation local office's nine counties. When the waters receded, $54 million in damages remained.
Yingling later characterized the flooding as being "worse than Agnes," a reference to the historical 1972 flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes.
Emergency shelters opened and went into full swing, providing a place to escape, meals and cleaning supplies. Countless people offered not only contributions to help those in need but their time and efforts as people still reeling from the shock of what had just happened began to cope with the thick mud left behind after the waters receded.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency helped Lycoming County with $4.7 million in housing assistance and $4.2 million in public assistance, according to Peter J. Herrick Jr., external affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in FEMA Region III in Philadelphia.
The recovery would not be easy, and the story of last year's flooding sparked by Tropical Storm Lee is not over.
The public infrastructure is coming back, slowly but steadily, and that rebuilding is expected to continue into next year. And the story continues for those who still are not resettled after losing their homes to the destructive forces of raging waters.