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Wyalusing Businesses Hit Hard by Flood

 

By DavidKeeler

The business community along Route 6 just east of Wyalusing Borough took a particularly hard hit from last week’s flooding. Not a single retail business in this section of Wyalusing Township went unscathed.

The way the community once gauged the severity of flooding disappeared earlier this summer with the demolition of Welles Mill, but ironically an excavator used to raze the mill was over half-submerged with only the top of its boom above the water and served as a high water mark near where the mill once stood.

At the Wyalusing Creek Plaza, every business was inundated. “The water here was just above the top of the door,” said Clay Milne, owner of Backstage Video. “The countertops were floating.” Milne said he wasn’t able to save hardly anything. “All of my phone inventory is gone, with the exception of the one waterproof Verizon phone we had.” Milne said he hoped to be back in business in a couple weeks or so, depending on getting electrical power functioning again. He was unsure whether his inventory of DVD movies could be salvaged.

Brett Fulmer, who owns the plaza with his brother Larry, said he would gut every business down to the wall studs.

“They’ve already gutted our place,” Dorothy Eastabrook said Tuesday. “They didn’t waste any time.” Dorothy’s sister, Penny Hamilton, owns Wyalusing Florist, where Dorothy is an employee. “We didn’t save much of anything,” Eastabrook said.

Even without being on the premises, Dorothy said the business is still functioning on a limited basis. “We’ve had our business phone forwarded to my sister’s home, so we can still take flower orders on a limited basis.” They’re providing flowers for a funeral later this week. You can reach Wyalusing Florist by calling 746-4034.

Despite major flooding, Dorothy said one of the odd things that happened is that their flower cooler still works fine. “I guess it’s because the motor is on the top of the cooler and didn’t get wet,” she said. “We’re definitely going to reopen,” Dorothy said, “but at this point we just don’t know when.”

Linda Green, who owns Wyalusing’s Subway restaurant, said damage was extensive. “We didn’t save anything,” Green said. She’s relocated four of her employees, including store manager April Vanderpool, to her new Subway in Tunkhannock, which opened Wednesday at the new Walmart Supercenter.

It will likely be at least two months before Wyalusing’s Subway reopens, Green said. Virtually everything in the popular restaurant needs to be replaced. She said Wyalusing firefighters used fire hoses to spray mud from the floor. “When we will reopen depends on when the electrical panels dry out,” Green added.

Damage was extensive at the offices of Glen O. Hawbaker next to Backstage Video where everything was moved from the building. A team of volunteers helped remove waterlogged items from the storefronts and, in most cases, tossed them into a large trash container. Water was about seven-feet deep throughout the plaza.

Dr. Deirdre Huber, who operates Wyalusing Family Chiropractic, was out of town and visiting family in Australia when the flood hit. Her friends and employees joined with volunteers to clean the debris from her building, where hardly anything was saved.

At the Genesis Salon, it was pretty much the same story, where owner Peg Tyler said virtually nothing was salvaged. But Tyler was philosophical about her loss. “God is good,” she said. “There are so many with losses far beyond mine. This is nothing.” Tyler said it would likely be early 2012 before her salon is up and running again.

Across Route 6 from the Wyalusing Creek Plaza, Ace Hardware owner Mark Woodruff said his store took on about three feet of water or more. “Items on racks above the water are fine,” Woodruff said. A small army of volunteers was helping clean mud and debris from the store. Damaged items were being carried outside where some would be offered for sale at reduced prices. “Many things that got wet are in good shape, but I just can’t sell them as new,” Woodruff said. “We’re going to end up having a big yard sale.”

While the store is being put back into shape, Woodruff said he would try to assist customers and keep the store open on a limited basis.

Next door at Century Farm Meats, owner Mark Dietz said he expects to be back in business in about two weeks. “That likely wouldn’t have been the case if we’d lost our equipment,” Dietz said. But his coolers, freezers and other equipment survived. He did, however, lose a significant amount of his meat inventory. “The first thing I did when I came in here was to grab the recipes I’ve collected over 30 years,” Dietz said. He said the recipes were from noted local cooks such as Emily Kinsley, Cal Schulze, Marie Keeney and Doris VanDeMark. “They’re part of my life,” Dietz said. “They are irreplaceable.” Although wet, Dietz said he believes the recipes are salvageable. Century Farm Meats would have opened Monday, he said, except the walls were soaked and had to be replaced. The building did not flood during the Agnes Flood of 1972, Dietz added.

Back across Route 6, Peoples State Bank took a major hit and is closed to the public. Don Abrey, President and CEO of Peoples State Bank, issued a press release earlier this week stating that operations of the Route 6 Wyalusing branch have moved to a temporary location at 76 Church Street, Wyalusing (next to the post office), pending clean-up and repair to the Route 6 branch office.

The bank’s Route 6 Wyalusing office had about three feet of water throughout the building, including the vault and safety deposit boxes. Abrey said safety deposit box customers would be called to the bank on an individual basis to examine the contents of the boxes.

Lobby and drive-up facilities, as well as lending staff, are available at the Church Street location. Twenty-four-hour ATM services are available in Wyalusing at Connie’s Supermarket. Regular weekday hours will be observed at the Church Street location, however, no Saturday hours will be available. Customers in need of Saturday services are encouraged to visit one of the bank’s other locations, which include Factoryville, Dushore, Wysox or Sayre.

“We are committed to full restoration of our Wyalusing office and appreciate the patience of our customers. Our thoughts are with our friends and neighbors as they work through the devastation to their homes and businesses,” stated Abrey.

Dan Gamble said he expected to have the manual bays at his car wash open later this week. “We could actually do it now, but it’s so confusing here with all the people cleaning up, we don’t need the additional traffic,” he said. It will be considerably longer, Gamble said, before the automatic bay reopens.

Erich Barrett said he lost $80,000 in inventory and tools at his woodworking shop tucked away in a building not far from Gamble’s car wash. “I started out with just two saws,” Barrett said. “I can do it again.”

At Wyalusing Beverage, which is owned by brothers Tom and Bob McAndrew, all of the business’s beer and soda must be discarded and replaced. The good news, according to Tom McAndrew, is that they expect to be selling beer again before the weekend. “It could be as soon as Friday afternoon and definitely by Friday,” he said.

Matt Dewing, who owns Wyalusing’s ProCare Physical Therapy, said he was relocating his business to the Wyalusing Elementary School and hoped to be operating there by today (Thursday, Sept. 15). Dewing said his flooded facility suffered extensive damage and he was unsure about returning to the building. The Wyalusing school board provided housing at the elementary school on a 60-day basis.

“I’ve never seen a community come together the way Wyalusing does,” Dewing said. He said he has offices in numerous communities and has never seen anything like what happened in Wyalusing this week. “It just blows me away,” he said. Dewing said he was particularly grateful to the Wyalusing School District for letting him use the school, even though it’s currently under contract to be sold. (The sale is pending to Tuscarora-Wayne Insurance. See page one story).

Jim Nicholas said he definitely intends to open his D.G. Nicholas Auto Supply located next to ProCare. “I really want to thank all the high school students and their parents who came to our flooded store to help with the clean-up.” He also praised Mountain Energy for bringing pumps to the scene and Meshoppen Stone for their assistance.

Nicholas, who said his store has been at this Wyalusing location for eight or nine years and never flooded, plans to replace all flooded items in his store with new merchandise. He confided that the devastating flood wasn’t the only thing on his mind. “My daughter is getting married Saturday,” he said.

Don Burgess, whose son Ted owns the Wyalusing Laundromat and an adjacent building that formerly housed Mountainside Lanes and is now rented to Lende, a Wilkes-Barre based gas construction company, said water levels reached the eaves on the former bowling alley and about eight feet at the laundromat. A portion of the parking lot is littered with rocks and gravel and looks like a streambed.

Don Burgess said the property’s former owner, Harry Knolles, wrapped a conduit with black tape to mark the 1972 Hurricane Agnes flood level inside the building. “It was really close to that this time,” he said.

Both buildings are currently vacated and gutted, but Burgess said the laundromat should be back in service within a week. “People have been stopping by asking if the laundromat is open,” he said. “They need a place to wash their clothes.”

PenMart President Eric May said his company’s Wyalusing store was one of five locations damaged by flooding. PenMart’s Tunkhannock store opened on Wednesday of this week, and the Dunkin Donuts location there is expected to follow suit in the next day or so.

Like Ted Burgess’s adjoining property, PenMart took a broadside from the roaring Wyalusing Creek, which jumped its bank and slammed into PenMart full force. Water rose to eight feet inside the store and the force of the stream broke some of the plate glass windows. “We’re going to replace everything,” May said. Rumors that a portion of the building had broken away proved to be untrue and what people were actually seeing was a walk-in cooler that was floating. “If the building had suffered damage like we heard it did, we would be rebuilding the entire place,” May said.

Like others hit by the flooding, May was quick to praise those who helped clean up the mess. “We had employees, their family members and people from Dunkin Donuts Corporate here helping us clean up the mess,” May said. He said he still has the paperwork for when he ordered equipment for his Dunkin Donuts store, so he will be able to replicate that, meaning the store’s Dunkin Donuts section will be identical to what was there before the flooding.

May, like many of the other Route 6 business owners, said he had no flood insurance. “Who would have thought this would happen?” he asked. May hopes to be pumping gas and diesel fuel within a week and have dry goods and other basic items in his store within a couple weeks. As for the return of his popular Dunkin Donuts outlet, May said he’s shooting to have it open by Halloween.

Like Matt Dewing, Robyn Keeney Lacy has relocated her Wyalusing Valley Children’s Center to the Wyalusing Elementary School, where she opened Monday. Robyn’s business serves 130 youngsters. She is bringing in a professional cleaning service called GearClean to restore her building. She said other flooding victims who may want to utilize the company can contact the owner, Art Major, by calling 540-905-0031. Robyn, who said she’s unsure when she’ll be able to return to her building, has more on her mind than her flooded building: She’s expecting a baby any day.

Formerly in the same building with the children’s center, Larry Linnell, MD and Korie Lambert, PA-C, have relocated their offices to Memorial Hospital in Towanda. Their Wyalusing offices sustained heavy flood damage.

At TranZ, the rail depot that supplies sand to the region’s gas exploration companies, Adam Dietz said all but one of three rail cars that were toppled when water washed away ballasts under the rails are back on their wheels. He said employees are draining oil from machinery, and they’re expecting a crew in from Kentucky to rebuild machinery. The company’s office was totaled. “We saved a couple filing cabinets and a table,” Dietz said. “Everything else was totaled.”

Dietz said the company has an aggressive plan to be up and running by the first of next week. “We have people who are laid off and we want to get them back to work as soon as possible.”

 

 

 

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