Pa. residents return to mess water left behind

June 30, 2006|by DON AINES


The aftermath of a flood leaves a stench that lingers after the waters have receded, and it was in the air Thursday as residents of one mobile home park returned to see what was left of their homes and belongings.

That smell, a combination of muddy water, rotting vegetation, trash, fuel oil and soaked furniture, greeted James and Karen Coons when they came back Thursday to look through their waterlogged home by Conococheague Creek in the Northwood Mobile Home Park north of Chambersburg.

"My trailer is wasted," Karen Coons said.

"We're not supposed to be in for a couple of days ... We might not have electric for a week," James Coons said. "They said they're going to try and get this declared a disaster area so the government can help us with grants."


As part of the process of obtaining possible disaster assistance, Franklin County Emergency Services Director Jerry Flasher announced Thursday that county municipalities will form teams to assess the damage from the storms. The information compiled will become part of a countywide damage report that will be forwarded to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency as part of its formal request for a presidential disaster declaration.

Residents and property owners are being asked to report damage as soon as possible to their township or borough, Flasher said.

"It came up about 6 inches here," James Coons said, indicating a level on his living room sofa where the fabric still was wet to the touch. The carpet squished beneath his sneakers.

"I just laid hardwood flooring in the kitchen. It's all warped up," said Coons, whose family is staying with his brother.

Coons recounted how 275-gallon heating oil tanks went floating down the creek, along with heavy propane tanks and other flotsam during the storm. Around the park, mobile home skirting was missing or buckled in, and leaves jammed 2 feet up in a decorative trestle indicated the high-water mark of the storm.

"My wife's the only one working right now," said James Coons, who is recovering from a fall. "We're living paycheck to paycheck right now."

"There's a lot of people who say they are moving" out of the development, he said.

"They can come back in at their own discretion. They just don't have any electric," said Blain Kirby, who manages the 56-lot park. "We don't recommend it."

"This is about the fifth flood I've been through here," Kirby said.

Lori Coons, who is related by marriage to James and Karen, lives at the Mickey Inn Mobile Home Park. It also had a mandatory evacuation, but she stayed anyway.

"I'm not the only one who stayed," Lori Coons said. The damage to her park was less extensive, and she said her power was restored overnight.

A temporary emergency shelter was set up Wednesday night in the Chambersburg Recreation Center, but no one stayed there, said Amanda Mellott, a secretary with the county's Red Cross Chapter. Nine families were put up at a motel in Scotland, Pa., that night, she said.

The shelter at the recreation center has been closed, and another opened at Chambersburg Area Middle School that will remain open until Monday, Mellott said.

Red Cross Chapter Board Chairwoman Diana Sponseller said five families are due to move into the shelter. The nine others also could be moved in if they are unable to find accommodations by Friday night, she said.

The shelter also is open to any residents displaced by the flooding, Flasher said.

Lana Petitfrere, another Northwood resident, said the disaster "has worked on everyone's nerves ... At least our kids are safe."

"Homes can be replaced. Kids can't be," Karen Coons said.

West Virginia

National Weather Service officials accurately predicted Harpers Ferry's escape from potential flooding of the Potomac River in Jefferson County, W.Va.

Mayor James A. Addy said he was told the river crested early Thursday morning, more than a foot below the 18 foot flood stage.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., all three roads made impassible by flooding were reopened to traffic, Office of Emergency Services Director Stephen S. Allen told Berkeley County commissioners Howard L. Strauss and Ronald K. Collins Thursday.

Flooding along Opequon Creek impacted Douglas Grove Road and Grapevine Road. Baxter Road also had been flooded.

Staff writer Matthew Umstead contributed to this story.

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