By Eli Ruiz
YOUNGSVILLE Imagine waking up one morning to find most of your backyard missing and in its place is a raging 15-foot wide by four-foot deep stream.
In short, an entirely new body of water.
Well, that’s exactly what happened to Ethel Meyerer, 84, of Youngsville and her neighbors, Ray and Mary Lou Porter, when they woke Wednesday morning to find both their backyards, which sit along Panther Rock Creek, “rearranged.”
Tuesday’s day-long rains which dumped nearly six inches on parts of Sullivan County split the creek in two, creating an entirely new pathway and taking a large portion of their backyards in the process.
In the place of a lush, well-maintained and -manicured lawn there now was a new stream as well as literally thousands of river rocks and tons of sand and silt.
Mere pictures, descriptions and explanations do no justice to the havoc mother nature wreaked on the Porters’ and Meyerers’ backyards. It simply must be seen to be believed.
“It all happened in a matter of seven or eight hours,” explained Meyerer’s son Jim. “This was not here even the night before,” he adds pointing, still seemingly amazed, toward the new body of water.
As Meyerer tells it, years back there existed a dam upstream that kept Panther Rock Brook tame and mostly under control. “About a decade ago the dam went down due to age and disrepair and ever since we’ve had problems with flooding when we get heavy rains, [but] nothing like this.… It’s jumped before but never anything like this.”
The Porters and Meyerers had extensive work done to the creekbank between October and November of last year, splitting the cost. Mary Lou explained, “There was a lot of debris in the brook left over from Hurricane Irene, like large rocks, trees and a lot of other stuff we had removed. We also had the banks shored-up with gravel.
“I was sick when I woke up and saw this in the morning, sick and very upset. Everybody was upset but Ethel [Meyerer] was devastated,” Ported added. “It was so disheartening and your hope just really gives way. After all that work we thought we had the brook fixed. It’s just too much.”
Just three houses away is the home of Ron and Cindy Bernhardt. For the past few years Ron has created a levee of sorts out of stones and by hand. “I don’t have to go to the gym anymore,” said Ron half-jokingly.
The Bernhardts also had some boulders trucked in and placed as to create a dam. The man-made levee went a long way toward protecting the Bernhardt property as they suffered minimal damage. The dam didn’t fare so well, as several of the boulders and a large gabion a wire structure filled with rock or masonry material, used to form retaining walls, were dispersed by the force of the rushing waters.
To add to Ethel Meyerer’s grief, she just recently had her furnace replaced because after several times under water, the old one gave out. “Now her new one was just under water Tuesday,” pointed out Mary Lou Porter.
The Youngsville residents want the brook rediverted and brought back to its original state. Whether or not this is possible and the costs involved truly concern these longtime neighbors who are hoping there is some help that can be gleaned from this story.