Rebuilding continues after last year's flood in Sayre, Athens
Andrew and Betty Bobick's home on Garden Street in East Sayre was among those severely damaged when flooding struck the area last September.
The house, close to the Susquehanna River levee, didn't flood in 1972 and hadn't suffered any major flooding since 1948, Bobick said. Last year's flood was "depressing," he said. "It was a shock."
Contaminated floodwaters forced the Bobicks to relocate as workers gutted the first floor, which Andrew Bobick said once contained handmade birch cabinets and other details. "Everything was birch," he said. "We enjoyed it all the way through."
A year later, rebuilding at the home is in full swing. On Friday, members of the North Oakland Disaster Relief Team of Oakland County, Mich., just north of Detroit, spent Friday replacing wooden boards and adding electrical wires.
The Michigan crew, which arrived Sunday and left Friday afternoon, is the third in a month to work at the Bobick house. While work will likely continue into next spring, Bobick and his family said they have been happy to see the house begin to come back to life. "It gives you a bigger incentive to return," Bobick said.
The crew split their time over the week between Bobick's house and a house on Chestnut Street in Athens, sleeping at the rectory of the Ascension of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church, currently in use by the Valley Relief Council.
Vince Alonzi, a volunteer with the North Oakland Disaster Relief Team, said the group travels to locations in need of its services "a couple of times a year." The group has enjoyed its stay in the area, he said. "They've treated us real good," he said of the VRC volunteers.
The groups work for free, raise money to make the trips and often use vacation time from their jobs to travel to the area, said Lucinda Brown, VRC chairperson. Many groups who have visited the Valley are attached to the region and make return trips, and she said several groups called to check on the area's conditions after Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern states last week.
Brown said the organization currently has 27 open construction cases and has completed an additional 12 homes.
The VRC has been directing its efforts toward selected homes in order to move seven families remaining in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's temporary mobile home community in Athens Township back into their homes, Brown said. FEMA's 18-month agreement to use the Wilawana Road property is scheduled to end in March.
With groups scheduled in the coming weeks and, so far, for several weeks extending into next summer, Brown said the VRC is making progress, including at the Chestnut Street house, where workers put the finishing touches on recently installed sheetrock Friday.
Without the groups, "our neighbors would be in desperate straits right now," Brown said. "Without volunteer labor, they probably couldn't rebuild."
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.