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Monday, November 7, 2011

Family's Fight Continues Months After Flood

Betty Sturek still encounters daily reminders of the September flood that damaged the Hallstead home she and her husband Joseph share.

The swampy backyard with no colorful garden and no wildlife to watch as in years past.

The stale air that meets her nose when she walks down the stairs to the cellar, a smell that won't leave no matter how much air or sunlight comes in.

"It's not horrible, but it's a strange, different odor," Mrs. Sturek, 80, said.

But then there are times when she and Mr. Sturek, 91, look around and realize just how fortunate they were - and continue to be - in the aftermath this summer's flooding.

"Emotionally, we're doing much, much better. We've settled into accepting what took place," Mrs. Sturek said.

Brooms, cleaning supplies and food provided by agencies and neighbors who helped the Stureks piece their home back together.

A working furnace and hot water heater, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The sturdy cement walls and stone foundation that allowed the house to survive invading waters.

"Things turned out better than I expected," Mrs. Sturek said. "I'm grateful to people and God himself for saving us. It was quite a catastrophe for a lot of people."

The floods have also made people think about the future.

Terrified after watching floodwaters creep closer and closer, finally filling 3 feet of his Windy Valley Road home with water, Forkston resident Tom McGlynn physically picked up his 1,700-square-foot house and moved after digging and laying a foundation - to the tune of about $40,000.

"We moved our house on Tuesday. We actually picked it up with two big cranes, put it in the back of the truck and drove it down the road," Mr. McGlynn said. "No help ... just did it myself."

The seven-week process ended with his one and a half story home relocating 1,500 feet away and 20 feet higher than the creek, which had crept up within 20 feet of his house.

The past two months have given Mr. McGlynn and his neighbors time to process and pinpoint the cause of the flood in their area, dammed up sediment and debris they believe led to a violent surge of water that tore through the area.

"I carried a 5-year-old boy through water that was above waist deep probably going 40 miles an hour," he said, adding he was glad nobody died in the raging waters.

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