When Janet Lee left her 11th Street home after hearing forecasts of potential flooding related to Tropical Storm Lee in September, she took all of her important papers in her firebox along with an overnight bag. This didn’t seem like a bad choice at the time, as reports were saying the flooding would be similar to 2006, which only caused some water to collect in the crawl space of the home. Janet regrets that decision now, “Hindsight is always 20/20.”
Janet’s daughter, Shelly, has been on the front lines with her mother dealing with both the flooding, the clean-up, and the rebuilding. “Honestly, we really didn’t think the flood was going to be as bad as it was … With not knowing really what to think and after some resistance, my mom did evacuate on Wednesday night as we asked her to do.”
Unfortunately the early forecasts didn’t predict the historic nature of the flooding. Mrs. Lee’s home (which is all on one level) was inundated with four and a half feet of water destroying nearly everything in its path.
The family was devastated by the damage. Shelly said, “The home had to be completely gutted down to the studs and sub-floor. With having a ranch style home that meant every room was affected. After the demolition, it required extensive scrubbing, cleaning and disinfecting. I feel that since we removed the walls, insulation, and flooring on day 1 of clean up, we saved ourselves from dealing with mold. We had none in the home.”
But that type of clean up takes time. “[My mom] came and stayed with me for the first two weeks at my home on Fair St. in Bloomsburg. She continued to live with me and/or my brother Frank while displaced. Thankfully, housing was never an issue for her.”
The Lee family was overwhelmed by both the damage and the efforts of the community to help rebuild. “Having never been through a flood and not knowing what to expect, it was extremely overwhelming emotionally, physically, financially, and mentally. Thankfully we had help from family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, church members, neighbors, classmates, AGAPE, and the BU Football and Wrestling teams. Everyone was amazing! I was grateful for Facebook, which allowed me to post when we needed help, and also to find out what was going on in town or with AGAPE.”
This help allowed the family to begin to think about rebuilding. “Our builder, John McCarrie was from Hazleton as were several of our sub-contractors. They were truly a blessing from above. As soon as we were cleaned up and ready, they were on the scene ready to go. He made the process very easy for my entire family. After meeting with our builder at the beginning of October, he assured us that she would be back in her home by Thanksgiving. He kept his word.”
And while Janet didn’t host the Thanksgiving meal, she is thrilled to be ready to host her family for Christmas, as the home has been completely rebuilt and remodeled (with a new kitchen designed by Shelly). Despite the loss of many family memories and material possessions, the family will be able to come together and celebrate, which according to Janet and Shelly, is obviously the most important thing.
In addition to their Christmas celebration with family, the Lee family is planning an open house this Saturday to thank everyone who helped them along the way. (The Bloomsburg Daily is going to be there to take photos of the unveiling celebration.) Shelly feels that it’s the least they can do. “We wanted to thank everyone. People are curious to see what the home now looks like after seeing it gutted. We had so much help in so many ways…. Just unbelievable! We know we are fortunate and very blessed. We plan to pay it forward and help some others who are still struggling with re-building.”