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Flood fills house with record breaking depths

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004

ETNA -- A 1996 flood dumped 18 inches of rain into Angie McCarrison's home and caused $18,000 damage.

"I can't even imagine how much this is gonna cost," McCarrison said from her two-story house along Cherry Street where remnants of Hurricane Ivan spilled 91 inches of water -- the highest recorded water level in the borough.

"I'm not staying around to see," McCarrison said. "I'm moving."

Friday's rainfall of up to 7 inches broke the record set 14 days ago by Hurricane Frances when 3.6 inches of rain fell across the region. Prior to that, the biggest rainfall in one day was 3.57 inches in August 1888, according to the National Weather Service.

Residents along Cherry and Sycamore streets, who live about two blocks from Little Pine Creek, said the water level rose so quickly at their homes that it went from ankle- to knee-high in 15 minutes and the force of the flood was enough to lift Dumpsters from the VFW nearby and float them down the street.

"I had about 4 feet in my basement that I was pumping but I wasn't keeping up," said Angie's husband, Ken. "It was a couple minutes later and she said the water already was 2 feet into our livingroom."

There was nothing to do but get out, Ken said.

It was two days before the McCarrisons and other residents could re-enter their homes, only to find their property broken and blanketed with mud.

On Monday, the mound of rubble outside the McCarrison's looked similar to those lining almost every street in Etna. A brown pile of furniture, food and toys that stood 5 feet high was hardly recognizable through a thick residue of mud. But, piece by piece, Angie McCarrison knew what she was losing.

"Oh man! That's my Pampered Chef baking pan," she said, as friends lugged garbage from her kitchen.

Another memento was not so easy to part with. Tossed into the pile was a videotape of her children's Christening.

A weary McCarrison did not let the devastation get the best of her. Wiping the dirt from her face, she stopped to take a break and focus on the positive.

"We don't have a choice. We gotta get this stuff out of here," she said. "At least I still have pictures."

The homeowners already have been told that the powerful surge of water that wiped through town likely created holes in the foundation of their home. There is a limit to the number of people allowed in to help with clean-up. Once the mud dries, the house likely will be uninhabitable.

"What are you gonna do• Get mad• Cry?" McCarrison asked. "I'm just not gonna do it again. We're not staying."

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