'72 Déjà vu : September flooding in Tunkhannock Part 2

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rt. 6 East out of Tunkhannock.
From the mountain, we could see how quickly the water was rising. Once-visible trailers were now completely submerged beneath the muddy river that crept further and further into Tunkhannock. My father was watching the shop where he worked along Tioga Street and the waters that moved closer to the front door. It was only around one o'clock and the news stations kept saying the river wasn't going to crest until late night or even the next day. How much higher could it go? How much more of my town could it swallow?

As the crowd gathered around us, my brother and a few of his friends arrived. Chatter about the rising water evolved into questions of when everything would be back to normal. When could we work? When would we be able to make it off the mountain and back into town? My brother's friends had the answer to at least one of those questions for anyone willing to take a bit of an adventure.

There was a way to town, we found out. I had kept mentioning how much I wanted to get into town to document anything I could. Get a closer look at things. Be there to help in any way I could. All conventional ways to anywhere were blocked by flood waters for those of us living at the base of Avery. Four-wheel drive and a bit of off-roading provided another route, however. My brother's friends explained the way and then left to try and make their way further down the ridge line. I was determined to make it to the downtown area.

We began our descent along the rocky, washed out trail that wound down along the backside of the mountain. By now, the rushing torrents of water had slowed a bit and the rain had finally tapered off. My boots we covered in reddish, slick mud and my pants were soaked dark below the knee.

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The local P&G credit union.
At the end of Lane Hill road, the only other way to Tunkhannock besides the flooded route 92, the water lay deep covering a stranded car in a parking lot behind the gas station. It lapped at the entrance to the local credit union like gentle lake waves as a man bent low to mark the height with a quick spray of white paint. Near by, a little girl splashed in the water with her rain boots as her mother scolded her.

After a bit, my brother and I decided to find our way to town through the trail his friends described. As we hopped into the truck, I threw my camera in its bag onto the bench seat and settled in. 

The path was narrow and the water rushing down through the mountain carved gullys intermittently along our journey. The full-size Chevy barely fit within the confines of the eroded trail as we slowly made our way along. Onward we went. Pushing through the brush, down through an open field and onto another dirt path which led to an open road. We emerged on the outskirts of town, the bridge before us invisible under the swift current of the Tunkhannock creek.

When flooded, turn around don't drown. The message couldn't be clearer.

We climbed back into the truck and headed along route 6, turning off the road and up through Lake Carey. We'd be able to find our way down through town and into the middle of everything that was unfolding before our eyes at the top of the mountain. What waited for us was something I never thought I'd witness in my lifetime. Especially not this early in my years. 

Batron's Supply and "The Skidder Shop" in Tunkhannock.
Read Part 1 here.

Comments (2)

This is incredible to see, and I'm sure more incredibly hard to deal with. I hope things are beginning to dry, but if they haven't...good luck, and you're a brave one.

Thank you, Kimberly. Things are slowly making their way back to normal around here, but it will be some time before everything gets back to the way they were. And nobodies memory will ever be the same.

I never thought I'd see something my father only told stories of. Now, I understand what they went through in 1972. I've got my own memories I'll pass along the years.

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