Fair Goers Remember Floods One Year Ago

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LEHMAN TOWNSHIP -- The one year anniversary of the devastating floods of last September is approaching.

Many of the flood victims found themselves at the first night of Luzerne County Fair, an event that was also affected by what last year's heavy rains left behind.

The 50th Annual Luzerne County Fair is back in business in the Back Mountain.

Still amid all the festivities, many are reflecting just how far communities in Luzerne County have come over the past year as some people still recover from the historic floods of September, 2011.

Bob and Mary Ryan were forced to leave their home in Kingston when Tropical Storm Lee came in.

“We didn`t think it was going to get that bad at all,” said Bob Ryan. “They told us it was going to be overnight before we had to leave and then they came back and said you have to leave now.”

Last year`s fair kicked off just as Lee landed in northeastern and central Pennsylvania coming in on the heels of Hurricane Irene.

The double storms caused the Susquehanna River as well as creeks and streams to flood numerous communities.

The fairgrounds escaped flooding, but the event was put on hold temporarily.

“We shut the fair down for two days,” said Patricia Pugh, co-chairman of the fair. “A lot of our people had houses they lost in the floods, a lot of vendors couldn`t get here because the roads were closed down. Some vendors coming up out of Bloomsburg couldn`t make it here.”

Fair organizers said they considered cancelling the fair altogether last year but felt all the entertainment would be the perfect way for people to relieve their stress.

“People were happy because it gave them something to do, to take their mind off of what was going on back home, cause they couldn`t get there anyway,” said Pugh.

“It was very important because everybody was feeling bummed out because of what was going on, everybody was stressed, nobody knew what to do,” said Ryan.

For the vendors at the fair last year, they were happy to see it reopen as well.

“We shut down early that one day and completely shut down the next day so all of us stands lost money and everything,” said Annemarie Konek, who was volunteering at the Dallas Rotary Club’s food stand.

The Luzerne County Fair runs through Sunday, September 9 in the Back Mountain.