SHICKSHINNY – Residents’ emotions in this borough of less than 1,000 ran the gamut Monday as they began recovery from Friday’s flood devastation.
One was resentment.
“I’m going to go to the dike (in the Wyoming Valley) and put a big sign on it that says ‘Happy 150th Anniversary, Shickshinny. Here’s your gift.’ I don’t care what the politicians say. These people know what that dike is doing to them. It’s killing this town,” Shickshinny Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Morris said.
Mayor Beverly Moore estimated 80 percent of the town was affected by flood waters that in lower-lying areas rose to the roofs of houses when the Susquehanna River crested at 42.66 feet.
Morris and others believe the Wyoming Valley Levee System north of them did its job – keeping the water within the river banks.
That is, until the waters pass through the system and hit downstream communities such as Shickshinny with greater force than ever because they can no longer spread out upstream.
“This may be the death of the town and it’s mainly due to that dike,” Morris said.
If it’s suggested that the Wyoming Valley would have been flooded without the levee, Morris believes fair is fair. “Let them share the pain. Why is Mrs. Smith on Main Street in Wilkes-Barre any better than Mrs. Smith on Main Street in Shickshinny?”
“I think this is the end of the line. I hope not and I’m trying to be optimistic, but there are a lot of homeowners who just said, ‘I’ve had enough,’ ” Morris said.
Cynthia Beach, 53, has lived with her husband, Doug, 54, at their 10 N. Susquehanna Ave. home for about 30 years, but they don’t plan on staying there much longer. Hit by flood waters five times before, the past weekend’s disaster was the final straw.
“We’ve been through it enough. We’re just tired. We’re not getting any younger,” Cynthia said. “The neighbors next door are leaving. They’re tired too.”
The Beaches and their children, Andrew, 22, and Joseph, 19, were able to get some belongings moved out before the midnight evacuation, but they still lost a lot.
“The government keeps promising this and promising that, and they’re never going to do anything,” Doug Beach said. “They don’t want to raise (a levee), so we’re just going to leave.”
“Or let them tear (the house) down and give us the money,” Cynthia Beach said.
A couple blocks north, Lillian Kresge, 85, sat in a lawn chair across the street from her home of 45 years watching her nephew, Aaron Jones and his son, Aaron Jr., wash her porch with a high-pressure sprayer.
As she looked at her mud-covered belongings on the sidewalk, her voice cracked as she fought back tears. “You think you’re all right until you sit down, and then you fall apart.”
Kresge has been hit by smaller floods before and has recovered. Can she do it again?
“I don’t want to. I love my house. I hate the thoughts of having to leave it. But at this point, I’m going to have to, I guess. We’ll see,” she said.
Kresge, too, thinks Shickshinny deserves a levee. She and other residents feel slighted, ignored, even in TV news coverage, Kresge said. “You never see anything much about Shickshinny. It’s like we don’t exist.”
Morris, the fire chief, said he and other officials began assessing the damage on Monday.
“Normally that happens a lot quicker because the fire hall and the borough building aren’t affected,” Morris said. But both took on 4 to 6 feet of water.
The borough set up an emergency command center a few lots up from the fire hall on West Union Street in the garage of Bob McDaniels. American Red Cross representatives made their first appearance in Shickshinny on Monday. “Everything we got up to this point has been private donations. Shickshinny area takes care of Shickshinny when it comes to something like this,” Morris said.
Holly Morris, fire company president, said there would be food and supplies at the command center and the Methodist church on South Main Street.
Mayor Moore, a nurse at Berwick Hospital, said she expected a tetanus clinic would be set up in the borough this week.
As far as relief in the form of a levee, Moore said she doubts Shickshinny will ever see one. “I honestly think they would buy out the town before they would put a dike down here,” she said.
Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/Citizens_blame_levee_for_damage_to_town_09-12-2011.html#ixzz1XtMK2VOO