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Flash Flooding Closes Roads

The cleanup is underway in Columbia County where Sunday night’s flash flooding washed away roads and caused a lot of damage.

Parts of Routes 487 and 42 between Catawissa and Elysburg are still closed.

Sunday night’s heavy rain in Columbia County caused a big mess. Creeks and streams overflowed in the Catawissa and Franklin township areas  taking everything downstream, including objects as big as cars, rocks trees and dirt.

Thomas Litwin and his wife, Barbara, surveyed the damage on their way to breakfast.

“This is unbelievable, this is unbelievable. One of these days there ain’t going to be a road here yet,” said Litwin.

“Too much devastation.  I just said to my husband, here it is the beginning of June and June is always a bad month. It seems it washes out all the time we get heavy rains,” said Barbara Litwin. “We’re going to be in big trouble if we keep getting heavy rains this summer. We’re going to be in real big trouble.”

Routes 487 and 42 took the worst of it. The people who live in that part of Columbia County said they got inches of rain in about one hour Sunday night. It’s not the first time it’s happened. Many of the same places wrecked Sunday night were damaged in September.  There is a difference.  This time it’s worse.

“For the short period of time, we had more devastation, I would say, coming down the hollow than we had last September,” said Dale Hauntzelman of Franklin Township.

A Franklin Township supervisor said the storm complicates the September flood recovery by washing away what he needed.

“My pipes that I had purchased are gone. The stone gravel that I bought is gone, half of it gone,” said Supervisor Edwin Lease.

“It’s just the creek gone wild again. This happens just about every time it rains here,” said Mike Hoffman of Catawissa.

Now, it’s up to road crews, state and local, to clean up the mess.  A supervisor in Franklin Township said the pipe and gravel he bought to fix the September damage washed away Sunday night.

It’s a repeat of a nightmare for PennDOT.

“We got some severe damage to (Routes) 487 and 42. We had crews removing about a thousand ton of debris,” said Shawn Hill of PennDOT. “The creek jumped the stream and come down over the township road and washed everything down on (Route) 42 south.”

Debris removal is not the only challenge.  The force of the rushing water peeled the asphalt off roads, and in some places it washed away the road entirely.

It might be weeks before this part of Columbia County is back to normal.


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