(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.)
This fall, the Plunketts Creek Township Fire Co. is focusing on its fundraising efforts - a breakfast at the fire hall the third Sunday of each month and a popular haunted hay ride held over two weekends in October on the grounds of the Consolidated Sportsmen of Lycoming County.
If raising money is all the excitement the fire company experiences, that is just fine with township Fire Chief Brad Stine.
Plunketts Creek Township Fire Chief Brad Stine is happy that life is returning to normal, a year after flooding from Tropical Storm Lee.
"We want to do a hay ride, not a flood," Stine said. "It won't hurt my feelings if we don't see that again."
Last year at this time, the company's fire hall literally was at the center of the storm - an oasis in the midst of devastation caused by flooding from Tropical Storm Lee.
The fire hall was turned into an emergency relief center offering food, shelter and supplies to victims of the flood.
"It became a hub. This was where supplies were brought and volunteers came here to help with the cleanup," Stine said.
"We were open 24 hours a day for a month and a half," Stine said. "We did three meals a day - an average of 300 meals a day."
For firefighters and the volunteers who assisted them, the work in providing assistance to township residents was never ending.
"After it calmed down at night, we'd sit down for an hour and a half and go over the game plan for the next day," Stine said. "It got to the point where you didn't know if you were coming or going. You were emotionally drained and you were just tired.
"At first you were so busy thinking about what you could do and getting things people needed," he said. "But after that first week and a half and things fell into a kind of routine. That's when it caught up with you and you realized how tired you were.
"After we shut down the 24-hour operation, we just went to doing lunch for volunteers," he said. "We had supplies probably through November."
As the emergency began to unfold, township firefighters went door-to-door, warning residents in areas that were prone to flooding. But the impact of the flood was far beyond what anyone expected, Stine said.
"We knew that it wasn't going to be good," Stine said. "We were getting reports from areas of the township being flooded that had never seen water ever.
"We did several rescues though we try to do preventative stuff," Stine said. "We did several rescues during the daylight on (Sept. 7) as the creek was coming up. We actually told people at a certain point, 'You're on your own.' We can't risk lives for people who didn't heed the warning."
Firefighters were on the job even as several of them had homes taking on water. Two firefighters' homes were significantly damaged by the flood, Stine said.
The outpouring from the community in the days, weeks and months following the flood was overwhelming, Stine said.
"It was very surprising ... the amount of supplies we received. You name it, we had people donate everything from vacuum cleaners to freezers," Stine said. "You asked for it and they gave it. I didn't know the community could work so well together.
"You had neighbors who normally complained about each other and all that stuff goes out the window," he said. "Everybody pitched in and helped each other out. It made you proud to be part of this community."
Stine said the township has come a long way in the last year.
Most of the people who plan to return to their homes already have done so or are in the process of doing so. Several homes in the township are being bought out through the county's flood buy-out program, Stine said.
Today the fire hall is quiet and Stine said he likes it that way.
"The year flew by, but the township has come a long way in the last year," he said.
"Everything is kind of back to normal. That might change when the leaves fall off the trees and you can see the debris."