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Better Days….

The images are more powerful than any words. The chocolate-brown river. Small, ankle-deep creeks suddenly turned into torrents that can rip a house from its foundation. Boats on various Main Streets. These small river-towns with their wonderful names. West-Pittston. Tunkhannock. Meshoppen. Duryea. Shickshinny. And dozens more. From above they call to mind New Orleans in 2005. When rivers take over neighborhoods, it always looks the same. Water and roofs. Tops of cars. You’re trying to figure out where the river ends and the neighborhood begins. Grand homes. Modest modules. Trailers. No discrimination. Water doesn’t give a shit what tax bracket you’re in.

Today we’re all pretty stunned by what’s happened. In ’72 they called it Agnes. It doesn’t have a name this time. It happened too fast. No time for names. I’ve heard a few ideas from folks affected, but they might make the weather folks blush.

It’s sunny as I write these words. Blue skies. Isn’t that always the way? After bringing tens of thousands to their knees, Mother Nature wakes up the next day and acts like everything is normal.

And all of us know that it could have been a lot worse. If the rain hadn’t stopped…..maybe a few more hours worth….the Wilkes-Barre levee would have been topped. And then…..well it would have been Agnes II. As bad as this was, it was not Agnes. Small consolation for many, for some areas got hammered harder this time then in 72. Levees, flood walls….it becomes cruelly mathematical after a while. The water stopped in one place will find another. Surely better for 1 to flood than 100, but tell that to the guy who lost everything but the clothes he’s wearing. Then duck.

Watched hours and hours on TV. Became numb after a while. Bridges look like foot-paths laid over the water. A house in the river…..getting obliterated as it slams into a bridge. An eerie night-time boat tour through 8 foot waters in West Pittston. That Victorian house on the right? So pretty. How many years old must it be? How many children raised there? We’re told the elderly woman who remains refuses to leave. She’s on the 2nd floor. Alone and in the dark. Leave? Where would she go?  “Home” is the ultimate 4 letter word.

Many lost everything. Some had microphones thrust into their faces. “How do you feel?” I’m not sure I wouldn’t have lost it. “How do I feel? Wonderful. Heading to f-ing Disney World.” But Wyoming County folks are battle hardened. I saw no tears. I heard no rants. Just steely determination. “Well, this is home and we’ll just have clean up the mess and get back to it.” With water in the 2nd floor bedrooms. Incredible. These people respect the river. But they ain’t gonna be bullied by it.

So we all move on, no?

It’s all in the rear-view mirror now?

In Tunkhannock, Main Street is currently filled with residents pushing brooms. Not the kind of folks who wait for the “official” clean-up to begin. Bureaucracies have their time frame, and these folks have theirs.

Surely we’ll all remember this for the rest of our lives. For my generation, the way our elders spoke of Agnes, we’ll speak of the flooding of 2011. And of course, many others will speak of both…..for they eye-balled the river both times. They expected no quarter. And they gave none. Stalemate.

The sun is still out. The ground is dry in some places. The grass all around is golf-course-green from the rains. The television stations have returned to their regularly scheduled programs. What comes next?

And is it truly over? Will it ever be for some?

What comes next?

Better days I trust. Better days.

I eagerly await Mike’s words on this. These are his roads. This is his backyard. These are his people. He deserves the final say here.

In a bit…


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