Tunkhannock Reflects One Year after Historic Flood
"It actually came all the way up just to the bottom of the screen," said Dietrich Theater Executive Director Jennifer Jenkins. The screen and speakers were spared along with the concrete stage, but the flood still inflicted nearly a quarter-million dollars damage on the building.
All of this wood buckled. Everything came out. All of the carpet was not good," said Ms. Jenkins. "The mud when the water receded was so thick and just full of all kinds of debris and it smelled horrible."
A watermark on a theater restroom door remains as a reminder of the resilience of people who volunteered during the cleanup to bring the theater back from the brink. "If it wasn't for the people in this town, I honestly don't know where we would be," said Ms. Jenkins.
It's resilience that also brought back Bricks Shur-Save Supermarket and Ebb's Candy Jar candy store. Other sites that managed to recover include Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and several Tunkhannock-based bank branches.
Perhaps the biggest Tunkhannock landmark of all, Gay's True Value Hardware, took two months to reopen post-flood. Situated at Route Six and Bridge Street, Gay's has been hit by the Susquehanna several times in its history but never quite like last September. "We're losing our sense of humor on this one, you know," laughed Gay's True Value Hardware co-owner Doug Gay.
Ten feet of water inundated Gay's a year ago. It's still awaiting an insurance settlement and FEMA help to replace lost inventory. "We're having a rough time there," said Mr. Gay who acknowledged a deal is in the works to sell the property to CVS Pharmacy and move the hardware business hopefully somewhere else in Tunkhannock. "Now we're looking for at least three to four different spots to relocate," he said.
Besides rebuilding, Tunkhannock has also seen new birth. Three businesses alone have sprung up on East Tioga Street since the flood of 2011 including two connected to each other.
House of the Rising Buns Bakery Shoppe adjoins Eclectic Heart Antiques & Furnishings which both opened in June. "People come in to have their little treats or their coffee in the morning but then I send them over to the gift shop," said bakery owner Connie Kintner who says she didn't think twice about investing in Tunkhannock. "When you love Wyoming County and you're surrounded by people that you love and that love you it's very easy to do," said Ms. Kintner.
The Dietrich Theater will host an open house Sunday afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 to thank the community for helping with last year's flood cleanup. As for the future of Gay's True Value Hardware, the owners hope to relocate for the new year.