(EDITOR'S NOTE: One year ago, areas of Lycoming County were devastated by flooding spawned by Tropical Storm Lee. Sun-Gazette reporters and photographers recently revisited the flooded areas to see how far Lee's victims have come since then.)
The decision to rebuild after their home was destroyed by the September flood was not a unanimous one for Kathy and Mark McFadden of Plunketts Creek Township.
Kathy said she has seen enough flooding to last a lifetime.
Kathy and Mark McFadden, second from right and far right, sit with their daughter, Brandy, and her fiancee, Chad Davis, on the only remaining portion of their former Plunketts Creek Township home — a fireplace. The McFaddens have rebuilt their home and plan to build an outdoor patio around the fireplace.
"It's fear," she said of her reason for balking at the idea of staying. "I was here alone for two previous floods. This one was the final straw. I want to go."
Mark had other ideas, however. He wanted to stay, and in the end, the couple agreed to rebuild on the property they own along Loyalsock Creek.
Kathy said she agreed to the proposition only if restoration work could be done along the stream bank.
A large section of the McFadden's property was washed away in the flooding. With each rain thereafter, a little more ended up being washed downstream.
According to Mark, a large number of trees lining the creek were washed away by the flood.
"It really opened up (the view)," Mark said. "There is a guy living across the creek who said he didn't even know there was a house here."
A state grant recently was announced that will cover 25 percent of the stream bank restoration project, which includes the installation of stone reinforcement along the creek.
The work on the house has been going on since March. The couple and their son, Cody, planned on moving into the new house this past weekend, capping what has been a very trying year.
It began on Sept. 7, when the creek began to overflow its banks.
The couple began gathering items they feared would pollute the creek. Mark's new pickup truck was parked next to an older truck. Later, they discovered a telephone pole had fallen on the new truck, but did not damage the old truck.
The couple and their son evacuated to the homes of family members at 5 p.m. that day. There was about 3 feet of water in the yard when they left.
As the water began to recede, several family members returned to the site and took photographs of the house and property.
Kathy said she was relieved when she saw the photographs. The house appeared to have weathered the storm.
"I said, 'Yes, we made it. We're OK,' " she said.
The photographs did not tell the whole story, however. Large sections of the house's foundation had been destroyed.
"Then it all started to cave in. We decided to do this," Mark said, pointing to the new house.
According to Kathy, her husband coped with the loss of the house by going there every day to clean it up. On one occasion, while work was being done on the house, it began to shift and cracks appeared in the walls.
"We were actually in the house when they yelled for us to get out," Kathy said.
Since the flood, Mark and Kathy have been staying with their daughter, Brandy, an elementary school teacher who lives in Montoursville. Cody went to live with his sister, Ashley, and her husband, Craig.
Mark said it would be almost impossible to list the number of people - family members, friends and total strangers - who provided support and assistance following the flood.
The new structure is being built over the garage, which was separate from the original house. The first floor of the house is raised 8 feet above ground.
The only remnant of the previous building is a large stone fireplace standing adjacent to the new structure. Mark said he plans to turn the fireplace into an outdoor barbecue pit and build a patio around it.
Portions of the new house were built using timber from the property.
About two years before the flood, Mark cut down a tree and had it cut into boards. The boards, which were stored in Brandy's garage, were used for the flooring and trim of the new house.
Kathy said the past year was the worst in the couples' lives.
"It's like a nightmare and you're waiting to wake up," she said.
Still, the couple said they are excited to move into their new home.
"I'll be a little unnerved until that stream bank gets fixed," Kathy said.