Flood-Damaged Houses Torn Down

BLOOMSBURG — It was a bittersweet day for many people in Columbia County; demolition started on several homes in a flood-ravaged area of Bloomsburg.

11 properties were bought out by the town last year.

The 900 block of West Main Street in Bloomsburg was one of the areas hit hardest by the flood of September, 2011.  A year and a half after the flood, some of the homeowners watched as their houses were torn down.

With just a few motions of a crane, Sharon and Colton Fisher’s house was torn down.

“It’s kind of like a bittersweet moment,” Sharon said. “I’m sad but I’m happy.”

Ten houses along West Main Street will be torn down this week.  Bloomsburg bought out the properties last year through a grant.

“These houses flood tremendously during high water events.  (We’re) getting these people out of the way so they don’t have to be rescued by helicopter like they did in 2011,” said town administrator William Lowthert.

“We’re better off now, because without the town putting up a flood wall, it was just a matter of time before it happened again,” said Colton Fisher.

The Fishers say four generations of their family lived in this house but they were tired of it flooding.

“Year after year it just wears you down.  Every time it rains you have to wonder if the creek is going to rise, if it will go across the road and you must bring everything from the basement onto the first floor,” Sharon added.

“Once we found out we had the chance to be bought out, we were 100% to get out of here.  It’s the chance of a lifetime,” Colton said.

Richard Fornwald agrees.  He lived in this house for 44 years and saw a lot of flooding over the years.

“I would say probably some of the smaller ones, probably seven.”

Officials in Bloomsburg say no structures will be built on this land.  It is going to be a green space, and the town is even looking into possibly putting walking trails there.

“We have to keep it as green space.  Anything else we do with it, we have to petition PEMA to do anything else,” Lowthert added.

Most of the homeowners who participated in the buyout in Bloomsburg say they are now living in elevated areas, away from the flood zone.

Demolition is scheduled to be finished on West Main Street by the end of the week.