Fire Company Under Pressure to Recover from Flood Damage Before Winter Hits

ELMHURST TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- An organization in Lackawanna County is working hard to clean up flood damage before winter hits.

The Elmhurst-Roaring Brook Volunteer Fire Company was hit hard at a place the company depends on for its annual funding. The fire company's annual picnic is held at its fairgrounds in Elmhurst Township. The company says this picnic provides them with most of their operating income, and next year's picnic could be in jeopardy.

Flood waters forced their way from Roaring Brook and into the area surrounding the Elmhurst-Roaring Brook Municipal Building. Richard Miller works for the Elmhurst Sewer Authority. He was there when the waters rushed through. He says he almost didn't make it out.

"As soon as we made the corner and I was able to see the Roaring Brook, the water was about four feet over, and as we were coming through, it actually took the backhoe and started to bring us down this road. But luckily enough, we were able to get out of it. It was nerve-wracking trying to get out," Miller said.

Fire crews tell Newswatch 16 the raging flood waters from Roaring Brook were so powerful they shifted a large cooler several feet. The appliance and many others inside the building were destroyed.

"Refrigerators, several commercial fryers, and stoves and ovens. We lost all of our supplies as far as dry goods, paper goods," said Chief Richard Motichka, Elmhurst-Roaring Brook Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire chief says company's annual picnic is the largest fundraiser of the year for the volunteer fire company, providing them with 75% of their operating budget for the year. Now, the picnic area needs a lot of work before the winter frost makes its way to Elmhurst Township.

"We have unstable structures that we have to support with the freeze and the thaw of winter and the snow loads on the roof, we may not have any buildings to come back to in the spring," said Chief Motichka. "It's pretty heart-breaking to see what happened with all the work that we put into it for the community."

Alexis Roman lives near the picnic grounds. She says she hopes the grounds can be restored for her family to continue their yearly tradition of attending the picnic.

"It's the one time of the year that we all get along, and we all just have fun as a family, so as it's gone we don't know what's gonna bring us together anymore," Roman said.

The chief says her family has nothing to worry about.

"We'll rebuild. We'll be back. It's just gonna take a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears kind of thing to get it going."

The fire chief says although the annual picnic is not held until June, that's not a lot of time. He says it will be hard to find enough time and volunteers to winterize the pavilions so they are not destroyed this winter.

In the spring, they'll have even more work to do to replace everything that was lost.