Many in Port Carbon Face Recovery Without Flood Insurance

PORT CARBON, Pa. -- Hundreds of flood victims saw their retirement dreams wash away by rising water in their communities this week.

They decided not to buy flood insurance because they cannot afford it.

What were flooded streets are now muck-covered dusty roads in Port Carbon in Schuylkill County.

Cathy Manning lives near the center of this community and sees the damage from the flood pile up outside and inside her house.

"Totally devastated," Manning said. "Mud everywhere."

Flooding in her basement ruined her furnace and washer/dryer, but she says the real crisis is not told in the piles of debris around town.

"Very few people, none that I spoke with today and yesterday, have flood insurance."

Cathy says at $350 a month, she cannot afford it.

Like most of her neighbors who live in a high-risk area, she's over 60, retired, and has no money for flood insurance after other bills get paid.

The Insurance Institute of America estimates 80 percent of homeowners who become flood victims do not have flood insurance.

Others in Port Carbon have flood insurance, but they worry it won't cover much of the damage from the flood.

Lori Herman's bank made her get flood insurance when she bought her house, but when a flood in 2006 damaged her home, flood insurance was of little help.

"They had all kinds of reasons why we couldn't put a claim in, because it didn't come from the creek, it came in through the sewer. It was just a disaster," said Herman.

It was a disaster for 91-year-old Pat Bohannon. His daughter says he was recently turned down for flood insurance because he spent $35,000 building a family room in his basement.

The flood claimed everything in the basement.

"It's the house he was born in. It's where he had 50 years with my mother. It's where five children were raised and we have come back and come back, and he told me this time he can't come back," Janie Shields said.

"I love my neighborhood, I love my house, I just can't do any more," Manning said.

Manning and others considering leaving damaged neighborhoods know the flood and the cost of flood insurance makes their homes tough to sell.

She fears people will just walk away and abandon their homes.

"Do we want our neighborhood to be Centralia?"

There's enough high ground in Port Carbon to keep it from being Centralia, the Columbia County Community abandoned because of an underground mine fire.

But when the creek that splits Port Carbon runs high and when storms are forecast, some without flood insurance wonder if they'll be the next ones with no choice but to leave.

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