Still Recovering From Flood Waters Two Years Later

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TUNKHANNOCK — Two years ago today the Susquehanna River reached historic levels after remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped several inches of rain.

The river went over its banks in several areas, along with creeks and streams, and hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded.

Two years later, some areas still look like war zones while others have made courageous comebacks.

Two years and about $30 million later, flood victims in Wyoming County are still recovering from the historic flood of 2011.

That storm left an impact on the area no one could have predicted and changed downtown Tunkhannock forever.

The water in the Susquehanna River shimmered Monday in Tunkhannock, a much different scene from two years ago.

Flood waters rushed through parts of Wyoming County and many are still stuck recovering from the damage caused by rains brought on by Tropical Storm Lee.

“I know that people’s patience (is) running out, however we just need to hang in there and continue the work that we’re doing,” said Gene Dziak, Wyoming County Emergency Management.

For Gay’s True Value Hardware that flood in 2011 was the last straw for a community landmark.

“It took us about two months to clean up the old store, and the funny part was as soon as we got it cleaned up and everything where it belonged, we sell,” explained Don Gacha.

The building was torn down in June, ending an era and making way for a new CVS store. The hardware store relocated just a few blocks away.

“In a way it was kind of a blessing in disguise. It was an opportunity with us with the CVS deal to actually get a new location which we desperately needed for years,” said Dan Gay of Gay’s True Value Hardware.

For many living in Tunkhannock, they say looking back at this corner of downtown two years later is difficult, knowing that it will never be quite the same.

“I would cry because it was just a part of my life that wasn’t going to be there anymore, in the same way, and that’s how the flood was. You move on, you go forward,” said Eileen Barziloski.

Barziloski owns Ebb’s Candy Shop, just a couple of doors down from where Gay’s used to stand.   She, like many others, misses the corner hardware store that generations grew up with.

“To drive by that place and you don’t make the right into the parking lot because it’s not yours anymore, it’s tough,” Gay said.

Now Gay’s is offering more to customers in several departments, wider aisles for shopping, and a bigger, brighter store.   But there’s just one thing missing.

“The charisma’s gone that we had in the old store,” said Gaccha.  “But it’s really nice.”

Wyoming County plans to tear down more than a dozen flood-damaged homes as early as this fall to continue cleaning up.

They hope all of the recovery efforts will be completed in about another year.

People in part of Luzerne County are also still dealing with the effects of the flooding two years ago.