HEMLOCK TOWNSHIP — Demolition is now underway, tearing down nearly two dozen flood-damaged homes in a community in Columbia County.
It has been nearly two years since flooding in 2011 ravaged the village of Fernville. After a federal buyout and the demolition of homes, around 10 percent of that community will be gone.
The September flooding of 2011 did the damage and a guy in a piece of heavy equipment is doing the rest in a matter of minutes, bringing down houses that families made their homes for decades.
In all, 23 places in the village of Fernville are coming down, all along Fishing Creek near Bloomsburg.
“A lot of them in Fernville are going to be ripped down and it’s going to be scarce down there,” said Jonna Hagemeyer.
Hagemeyer grew up in this neighborhood. She drove by some of the demolition.
“It’s a shame, it’s a darn shame. I’ve lived here since I was 13 years old and to see all these houses ripped down because of the flood, it’s too bad they couldn’t do more to protect them.”
Shane Hauck is the man behind the controls, bringing down house after house.
“A lot of people, they want to watch them come down.”
He knows he has an audience on the job, sometimes even the former homeowner stops by to watch. But Hauck just focuses on his job, and does it quickly.
“It’s just like using your hand after a while, I don’t even think about it,” Hauck said.
Not all the houses in this neighborhood are coming down. Some homeowners are actually raising their homes above the flood plain, but one thing is for sure, this neighborhood is changing for good.
“Partly it’s a shame that they have to come down but partly it’s vastly overdue, two years in the making,” said neighbor Dave Vanhorn.
Vanhorn lives across the street from one of the already leveled homes. He says after two years they were becoming eyesores. But he said it’s hard seeing some neighbors have to say goodbye to their longtime homes.
“47 years, that’s a lifetime in one place and to come down and watch it go down in a matter of hours, it’s just down and gone.”
The buyout of the 23 homes in Fernville comes from a mix of $2.1 million in federal and state funds.
Nothing can ever be built on those lots again.
Leaders in Hemlock Township are still trying to decide what to do with the empty land.