Forkston Residents Upset over Creek Cleanup

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FORKSTON -- Just about one year ago, flood waters after Hurricane Irene ripped through Wyoming County, tore apart bridges, roads and left several people stranded.

Forkston Township resident Karen Thomas said, "We were stranded 39 days. They did get a few people out that had medical, we had a zip line up to get some food sent over to us."

Local and state leaders are working to clean up the mess left from the floods, and more than $1,380,000 of federal disaster funding was just secured to help fix two sections of Windy Valley Road near a temporary bridge.

But some Forkston residents say the money isn't being spent wisely. Forkston Township resident Liz Dewolfe said, "They might as well take that check and throw it right in the water because that`s where it`s going to go.  It`s going to be washed away unless these creeks are cleaned."

A great deal of debris lies just a mile and a half up from the bridge and is what neighbors say needs to be cleaned up.  But there`s lots red tape keeping it from being done.

Thomas said, "DEP is the roadblock, they will not let us go in the creek.  They creeks have different tributaries, the water just goes where it wants to go.  If we have one more flood, it`s going to take all of our homes out."

Dewolf said, "There is so much debris, and so many boulders in the gravel bars it`s just unbelievable.  And all of that is going to come down here and it`s going to flood us again."

U. S. Senator Bob Casey says funding is also a stumbling block, but new laws may need to be enacted in order to clean up the mess.

The DEP says they would be happy to review permit applications to clean up Mehoopany Creek, but say applications would have to prove that no heavy equipment would harm the creeks.

But some people believe any progress is helping their community move in the right direction. Pastor Jean Swett said, "It`s a beginning, let`s just say it`s a beginning, it`s not a solution, it`s not the ending, it`s just the beginning."

All of the money is in place to repair the two sections of Windy Valley road and Senator Casey's office says they are waiting for PennDOT to work out a schedule for this project.