Special Picnic to Thank Volunteers

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP -- Dozens and dozens of volunteers gathered for a special picnic in Plains Township Tuesday night.

It was a special thank you for the group of more than 70 volunteers, most of them from churches in the Youngstown, Ohio area.

They have been in Luzerne County helping victims of the September 2011 floods. They have helped to rebuild 10 houses.

"We're working on 10 different homes from Shickshinny, Mocanaqua, Plains, West Pittston and now Duryea and what a better way to say thank you than throw a picnic?" said Gary Van Scoy of the Disaster Recovery Coalition of Luzerne County.

The coalition put the picnic together.

The volunteers said they could not believe the damage the flood waters left behind.

"I never thought a flood could do this much damage and what I saw here was really sad," said Rachel Wanger of Ohio.

"To see the real lives, to see the real water marks on the windows, the people talk about being rescued by boat. I think it's really eye-opening especially for the younger kids you know we don't have those kind of challenges," said Pastor Douglas Theobald of Struthers United Methodist Church.

In Plains Township, the volunteers helped fix several homes, including one belonging to Ken Stephens.

"They helped me put in a new living room floor. I had to tear out the floor because there was some mold and well, they helped me put an entire new floor in in three days where by myself it would have taken me two weeks," said Stephens.

Stephens has been living in a FEMA trailer since the floods as he tried to rebuild.

"It's just a Godsend to have the people that are caring and willing to help out another person, it's just amazing. It's just God's gift, that's all I can say," said Stephens.

His mother lives nearby and has also been helped by the group.

"It's simply amazing and I thank God for them coming in. It's overwhelming," said Donna Stephens.

The volunteers said they were happy to help.

"I'm just honored to help. I'm honored to be here and I'm glad to do anything I can," said Addison Agler of Ohio.

Officials from the disaster recovery group in Luzerne County said there have been other volunteers groups since the flood coming to help but none as large as this group from Ohio.

This week, some volunteers from Punxsutawny were also on hand.