I'd like to take a moment to solicit your prayers for those affected by the floodwaters in Pennsylvania and New York.
When the images you see on television are of far-away, unfamiliar places, your heart sinks somewhat and you think "How sad for them." When the images are of the place where you grew up, of familiar landmarks, of businesses whose owners are your friends and acquaintences, your heart breaks.
Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania is the river town I grew up in. The Susquehanna flows directly through town underneath a giant bridge and its swells have given us a scare a time or two before, but I have never seen anything like these photos.
The downtown area.
We know a family whose home is in the flooded area near the bottom of the photo. My old high school at the top.
The river separates the town, flowing strongly under the big bridge. When I was 16 years old I exceeded the speed limit by 5mph crossing the bridge and failed my driver's test.
The town's restored historic theater is at the top left. The gray building is a flower shop, and I've entertained dreams of opening a bakery in the empty brick building next door.
The catholic church is on the left, the bank is in the middle, and on the right you can see the first of the main street buildings. Just out of view is my best friend's grandmother's furniture store.
Gay's True Value has been in business forever. Despite opposition from many residents, Super Wal-Mart has just opened down the street and it's feared that Gay's won't make it. It would be really sad to see it shut down.
The response from those of us who have ever called Tunkhannock home makes it very clear: we have a connection this place. Whether it's restoring a historic landmark, fighting to protect the integrity of our land, or even standing up to big-box stores that threaten small businesses, the residents want what's best for the town. It's not a perfect place, but it's home. I hope that those of us who have ventured away will return, if even for a day, to find someone who needs help and get the town back on its feet. Maybe it will be a reunion of sorts, old neighbors and classmates banding together for a greater purpose. I'll take that over running into someone at the bar any day.
Photo credits: Barb Gay