WEST PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 10 years ago this week, Mother Nature gave NEPA a gut punch: the flood of 2011.
For some residents, especially those who live along the Susquehanna River, life was never the same. And 10 years later, the emotions of that week still run high.
All was quiet and calm in West Pittston Tuesday. But on this very day, 10 years ago, it was a much different story, an anniversary that has many reflecting on their experiences.
“I still can’t believe it’s 10 years now. I’m just glad it’s over, and I hope I never go through that ever again,” Antonio’s Pizza owner Francesca Carannante said.
It’s been 10 years since devastating floodwaters overtook West Pittston. Roadways turned to rivers from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, submerging countless homes and businesses.
“Just seeing the friends that you know, the people that you know, just with their hands on top of their head, just completely devastated. We knocked on doors, evacuated people. Some people didn’t want to leave, we later then had to get a boat to evacuate them from the homes because nobody anticipated the water coming up to 42, 43 feet,” West Pittston Police Department Chief Michael Turner said.
Heavy rainfall totals exceeded 10 to 12 inches in just two days, as thousands were forced to leave everything behind.
The flood of 2011 wreaked havoc on this community situated along the Susquehanna River.
“Everything was gone. There wasn’t one thing we were able to salvage. I mean, all of my equipment was wrecked, all of my supplies were wrecked. Luckily we had the conveyors like you see behind me, the clothes were up a little higher. All the clothing we saved, but I mean, as far as anything else in the building was gone. We had over eight feet of water inside the building,” Crest Quality Cleaners owner Michael Lanunziata said.
Landmark businesses like Crest Quality Cleaners and Antonio’s Pizza never returned to their prior locations. It took them years to rebuild, relocate and start anew.
“I’ll never forget the smell of the gasoline from across the street and the food that was out here for a week. It was horrific. I’ll never forget,” Carannante said.
To this day, many are haunted by the memories of the flood of 2011. But in those memories lay the resilience of the West Pittston community.
Michael lanunziata, owner, crest quality cleaners
“Anybody who wasn’t affected by the flood in some way, shape or form was there for you. We had friends from Pittston on the other side of the river, I mean, people were just, when they say ‘a valley with a heart,’ when stuff like this happens, this is when our valley truly comes together,” Lanunziata said.
The extensive damage caused by the flood of 2011 had not been seen since Hurricane Agnes hit the area in 1972.