2018-08-16 / Front Page

Gov. Wolf Visits Flood Damaged New Albany

By Pete Hardenstine

Photo by Pete Hardenstine
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, along with PEMA director Rick Flinn, left, talk with several local officials, including Bradford County Commissioner Ed Bustin, State Representative Tina Pickett and Sullivan County Commissioner Donna Iannone during his stop in New Albany on Wednesday, Aug. 15, to assess damage from the flood that hit the community the day before.
Photo by Pete Hardenstine Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, along with PEMA director Rick Flinn, left, talk with several local officials, including Bradford County Commissioner Ed Bustin, State Representative Tina Pickett and Sullivan County Commissioner Donna Iannone during his stop in New Albany on Wednesday, Aug. 15, to assess damage from the flood that hit the community the day before. Gov. Tom Wolf visited flood-ravaged New Albany on Wednesday, Aug. 15, surveying some of the damage inflicted by Tuesday's storms.

Wolf, along with PEMA director Rick Flinn, spent nearly a half hour in the borough talking to affected residents and viewing the damage, the most dramatic of which was the destruction of the New Albany Community Library.

"Devastating," Wolf told reporters. "Families that have been affected. Nature has a way of doing some damaging things."

One of the people Wolf spoke to during his visit was Tom Bostwick, who was in the second-floor apartment of the library when the first floor was out from under them, sending the second floor crashing into the middle of Rt. 220.

"These folks, what do they do?" Wolf said, referring to Bostwick and his family. "They are staying at their mother's place. The kids are at the aunt's. This has destroyed people's lives.

"We have to figure out how to get their lives back."

Wolf pledged that the state would do all it could to help with the recovery effort from the flooding that affected a wide swath of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

"We were talking about some things the state can do. This is going on across the state for so long," Wolf said of the summer that has seen historic rainfall, causing multiple flooding incidents, the worst of which occurred Tuesday.

The state is collecting damage assessments from the affected municipalities in hopes of reaching the difficult Federal threshold to receive disaster funds, according to Flinn.

"I'm hopeful for public assistance declaration," Flinn said. "We are sure we can get a Small Business Declaration, which is loans. But people don't want loans."

Both Wolf and Flinn praised the first responders and the volunteers who have been busy both during the flooding and into the aftermath for their efforts.

Wolf singled out Michael Mergen, who had been sweeping dirt off the side of Rt. 220 in the borough for five hours prior to the governor's arrival. Mergen talked briefly with Wolf and went right back to work.

"You see people pitching in, local folks volunteering and local first responders," Wolf said. "They are the folks who make the difference."

In addition to the damages to homes, Wolf and Flinn also noted that the flooding damaged many roads and left many without power.

Response efforts are focused on getting to anyone who was left stranded by the flood damage.

Flinn noted that over 100 roads were out of service during the storm, and 70 still remained on the closed list by PennDOT as of Wednesday.

Wolf noted that he came by a long line of trucks working to repair the ditches along the Wyalusing-New Albany Road on both sides of New Albany Hill.

"We will move heaven and earth to do what we can to help," Wolf said.

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