Loan Program Helps Flood Victim Complete Recovery

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SHICKSHINNY -- A day care business in Luzerne County has now completed its recovery from the big flood of 2011.

It was the first to take advantage of a low-interest loan program for flooded businesses in Shickshinny with interest rates close to zero.

For the day care, it was the final piece of the flood recovery process.

The kids at Miss Ashley's Beach House day care in Shickshinny certainly seem to be enjoying the new artificial turf in the outdoor play area. This area became a final struggle for the day care, trying to bounce back from the devastating flood in September 2011.

"It was full of mud and oil and gas and all kinds of things. We tried a couple times to bring loads of dirt and tried to plant grass but having to keep the kids outside, it was impossible to grow it," said owner Ashley Holmes.

But then Holmes found out businesses that were swamped by water in Shickshinny in 2011 are eligible for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan.

She paid for the turf with a loan for only .2 percent interest.

"It's wonderful, because it's something I can use and it's a very cost-effective program with a very low interest rate, so it made it affordable for me to buy something nice for the kids."

And the kids are taking advantage of it. While we were there, some were on the soft surface, sitting around a pretend fire roasting pretend marshmallows.

"I like to play in the grass."

"I run and play."

"It's awesome for the kids," said day care worker Tiffany Hoffman. "Last year they couldn't take their shoes off. Even if they did they, were filthy dirty and now with this they can run around, no shoes on. They can fall and don't have to worry about them getting hurt or dirty."

This loan program is available to other flood victims in the Shickshinny area, but not many have taken advantage. Miss Ashley said if they need it, they should.

"It is a very long process, a lot of paperwork and it's very tedious, but ultimately the outcome is good and you can't get this interest rate at a bank," Holmes said.

And it helped complete the recovery.

"It's like finally everything is back to normal," Hoffman added. "Everything is good. Everything is back to a routine now."

The federal loans are administered by NEPA Alliance and are part of an effort of the group Shickshinny Forward and the Luzerne Foundation. Right now, they are for Shickshinny area businesses only.