'It's Agnes all over again'

September 2011 News

PLYMOUTH TWP. - Residents of the township have been flooded so often they know the drill when the Susquehanna River starts to rise.

But Thursday's flooding, the worst since Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972, took even flood veterans by surprise. People watched anxiously to see whether the river would reach its predicted crest of 40.8 feet.

"We don't know. We're like everyone else, watching to see," firefighter Thomas Deretchin said at the municipal building, which had been turned into an emergency firehouse since the Plymouth Township Volunteer Fire Co. on East Poplar Street was evacuated. "God only knows if the dike's going to hold. Everybody's crossing their fingers."

By 4 p.m., many homes on U.S. Route 11, and Allen, East and West Poplar and Canal streets had water up to their first floor. Plymouth Township Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Dunn -whose own home on Allen Street was flooded - said the water was 7 and 8 feet high in places.

Leonard Stadts, who lives on Route 11 in the West Nanticoke section, put on his fishing waders to evacuate when the water reached his doorstep around 4 p.m. The last time the water reached his house was during the Agnes flood, he said.

"I just hope it doesn't reach the first floor," Stadts said.

But he was able to look at the bright side: "Hey, I don't have to water my tomato plants this week," he joked, adding, "I'll be back after it crests."

Supervisor Chairwoman Gale Conrad and her husband Mark towed their rowboat up a makeshift road over Avondale Hill to get a better view of the carnage in West Nanticoke. They launched the boat at Route 11 a few hundred yards from the state Route 29 intersection.

On U.S. Route 11 at East Poplar Street, cars were submerged to their roofs, propane tanks floated around the flooded PSC gas station and an assortment of peoples' belongings ranging from a mop and bucket to children's pool toys bobbed along on the dirty water.

The sign for the Calvary United Methodist Church was nearly underwater. A car, lifted by the flood water, floated near the door of the Shell gas station. A strong smell of petroleum permeated the air.

Megan Zywotek watched the flood creep up Route 11 near the township building, knowing it couldn't rise high enough to reach her house on the hill just up the road.

"It's fun. My kids love it," she said.

Her daughter Savana Gwynn, 11, agreed, watching as a Pennsylvania National Guard vehicle tried to plow across the flooded road but had to turn back because it was too deep.

"It's kind of fun to see cars and trucks drive through it, but it's kind of gross because rats and snakes are swimming around in the water," she said.

Conrad said she had requested state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, send in National Guard troops to deter looting and ensure people didn't enter closed roads.

"It's Agnes all over again," resident Ed Long said, watching the muddy water make its way up the pavement.

It was the first flood Long hadn't had to worry about: his home on Route 11 was bought out and demolished through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood mitigation program, and he moved to higher ground in the township.

"It gets to the point where enough's enough," Long said.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/it-s-agnes-all-over-again-1.1200268#ixzz1XTiTVEfY
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