Meshoppen Recovering from Lee's Flooding
By D.C. Koviack
Residents and businesses in Meshoppen Borough are well into the recovery phase of the flooding they suffered from Hurricane Lee. All along Main Street, Route 6, as well as in hard-hit Church Street, people are hauling out damaged furniture, rugs and appliances. Doors and windows stand wide open to the dry, sunny weather we are enjoying in the wake of the rains, and fans hum from every home.
Gabe and Carly Sheldon, who moved here just this past June from North Carolina so Gabe can work with his father, Burnie at the Sheldon Funeral Home, said they’ve been amazed at the help they’ve received. “We didn’t even have to call anyone, they just showed up,” Carly exclaimed Monday, taking a break from sweeping dried mud off their home’s back patio. “The level of community involvement is just awesome,” she said. “But that’s the good thing about living in a small town: everyone pitches in to help everyone else.” “We were fortunate,” comments Gabe, surveying the exterior of the funeral home and his private residence next door on Main Street, Meshoppen. “We only got water up to the first floor.” The rugs and floorboards of that first floor, however, are saturated, and have had to be removed.
Gabe and his wife Carly plan to re-finish some of the nicer wood flooring in their home, and lay new carpeting in the rest of the house. New carpeting will also be the order of business for the funeral home.
Nearby on Church Street, Bobbi Gregory—who like the Sheldons had no flood insurance—says most of her first floor will have to be completely renovated. “The walls are gone, the floor has to be replaced, but we got all the important stuff and most of our clothes up to the second floor in time,” she explains. Gregory said she was notified Wednesday evening about 7 p.m. that she should evacuate her home and secure important belongings on the second floor or take them off site. She, like many others, has been staying with friends who live out of the flooded areas. “This isn’t a flood zone,” Gregory says. “So we didn’t need flood insurance.”
Most of the residents in Meshoppen Borough felt the same way, and will have to wait for FEMA or PEMA money to replace their ruined belongings and devastated homes.
Across the street at Meshoppen United Methodist Church, they did carry flood insurance on their basement where the church kitchen and some meeting rooms and classrooms are located. Good thing, as the basement was completely flooded. The church itself had water from the overflowing Susquehanna River up to the sills of its stained glass windows. Next door, the Sunday School building proper had water up to the tops of its windows. There was no flood insurance there.
Dulcie Priestner, from the UM Church, says that churchgoers and neighbors have all been helping to move soaked bench cushions and take up water-logged flooring. Although both the church’s organ and piano sustained some water damage, both instruments are thought to be salvageable.
“Bill Ruark has been a godsend,” Priestner says, adding that Ruark, a local businessman and the owner of Meshoppen Stone, has sent in excavators, power washers, dump trucks and other equipment to haul away rubbish and rubble, and help people salvage and clean what they can and get their lives back on track. Ruark and another local businessman, Todd Brewer, have hauled away ruined appliances and arranged for fresh water and portable toilets to be brought in. Ruark’s team also pumped out every basement that had been flooded.
The Meshoppen Ball Field was completely under several feet of water, which surprises no one. However, the Meshoppen Fire Hall and the Post Office both had about six to eight feet of water inside. Although the fire company’s equipment could be moved to safety, the interior of the post office is destroyed. “We resumed delivery on Saturday,” Postmaster Mike Campbell says of the Meshoppen Post Office. The route carriers, however, are going to the Tunkhannock Post Office to sort their mail and then they make their usual deliveries. This scheme will be in effect for the foreseeable future since the Post Office Building will take weeks to clean out and get back into operating condition. Rumors that the Meshoppen Post Office is to close permanently have not been confirmed. Campbell did not comment except to say that if the U.S. Postal Service wanted to close his Post Office, they might take this opportunity to do so.
The borough offices and the police office were also completely flooded, but equipment and files were moved to safety in time. That building, which also houses Meshoppen Pizza, is owned by another local businessman, Ron Vieczorek. The Meshoppen Borough Council met Monday evening as usual, but used the Mehoopany Township Building as their meeting place.