Businesses Look Back at Flood of 2011

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JENKINS TOWNSHIP -- It has been five years since Tropical Storm Lee left its mark in Luzerne County.

Homes and businesses were destroyed after the Susquehanna River rose to a record 43 feet at Wilkes-Barre.

"All of the homeowners are gone. Most of them never came back after the flood," Simon Para of Johnny's Auto Parts said.

According to officials in Luzerne County, at least 250 homes have been torn down since then. Many homeowners took buyouts from the federal government. Other homes are just vacant.

At Johnny's Auto Parts in Jenkins Township, throwing in the towel wasn't an option.

"We've been here since 1958, and we just figured we would give it a try," Para said.

It took a lot of money and hands to get Green Valley Landscaping in Plains Township back to normal.

Five years ago, the property was covered in mud. It took all 80 employees days to clean it up.

"It was tough trying to struggle juggling the business end of it and the cleanup end of it. Looking back, everything has gone well and everything is pretty good," Jerry Natishan said.

At Sprinkles and Shakes in Plains Township business has been so good that they are expanding.

"We're building a kitchen out back so we can take some of the heat out of this place for the summer to serve a better ice cream product. We're also building an outdoor patio out back," Barton Weidlich said.

Four months after the flood of 2011, Barton Weidlich took a business gamble. He bought Sprinkles and Shakes in Plains Township.

It took a while to gut the property making it brand new, inside and out.

"You got to stay optimistic in anything you do. You really have to find the positive in anything. Even the water, it's Mother Nature. There's nothing you can do about it. It's going to happen again, that we can guarantee. I will do it again. I will rebuild this place again," Weidlich said.

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