BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Tuesday marked a day of cleanup and caution in flooded parts of northeastern and central Pennsylvania. Victims hope more downpours don’t cause more problems while working at undoing what floodwaters did. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us how some unexpected helping hands are making the cleanup a little easier.

The sound of a wet vac Tuesday afternoon has become all too familiar at places along Route 11 near Fishing Creek. “It’s a lot of labor. A lot of blood, sweat and tears,” said Ellen Rubenstein.

Dr. Brown’s Eye Care is among the sites flooded following the previous day’s relentless rain. It’s the third time the business flooded in recent years. Workers like Ms. Rubenstein who is the optometrist business office manager put their previous experience to good use. “We’ve learned how to do a quicker cleanup and disinfection. We actually saved more this time than we ever have before. We had a little bit of warning. The last two times we had no warning.”

This time they also have some unexpected helping hands: a pair of missionaries from out west with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Ramsey Jarvis who lives in Idaho said, “We just saw them pulling out stuff onto the street and asked if we could help out.” Ms. Rubenstein said, “I said absolutely and they were a blessing.” 

The missionaries helped move salvageable contents into a U-Haul truck. Other materials including some office furnishings and optical equipment just too damaged, they stacked up to the side. Fellow missionary Spencer Boren who comes from Utah said, “It (flooding) does take a toll on people. It amazes me a little bit how much of a part of people’s lives it can be.”

To give you an idea of the force of the floodwaters, it took out a lower section of glass from the store front, splintered another section just above it and shattered the area just above the door frame.

The optometrist’s business neighbor, Creative Dog, moved out over the weekend and was spared the cleanup burden. Meanwhile, the nearby Bloomsburg Fairgrounds was also in cleanup mode after muddy waters flowed through the grounds and into several buildings. The fair staff vowed to be ready “better than ever” for the September fair. 

With Fishing Creek returning to its banks, this town hopes it will stay that way knowing how fickle flooding can be.