‘Back to square one’

After flooding hit Raubsville, Pa., last week, residents are back to square one.


"Residents are worried that they won’t be able to rebuild this time."

—William Rex

After flooding hit Raubsville, Pa., last week, residents are back to square one.

The small riverside town suffered significant flooding in September, when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan caused flash floods when the Delaware River rose out of its banks.  Now, six months later, residents who had just finished repairing their homes are cleaning out again.

“They’re not only back to square one, but it’s considerably worse this time,” said the Rev. William Rex, a member of the Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) task force for the southeast Pennsylvania synod. “Some houses were destroyed, and others had second floor damage.”

The hardest hit section of Raubsville sits between the Delaware River and the Delaware Canal. The flooding was more severe this time because the rising river breached parts of the canal. Rex, who also pastors St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in nearby Ferndale, said houses that had no damage from Ivan were damaged this time. He added that some people have insurance and some do not, but even if they do it may not be enough to rebuild.

Rex said the neighborhood is home to families without many choices on avoiding the flooding or being able to make repairs each time the river rises.

“Some families have nowhere to go, others don’t have enough money – they don’t have a lot of options. Residents are worried that they won’t be able to rebuild this time.”

Two homes have already been condemned. Another two of the severely damaged homes were ones Rex and LDR volunteers had been helping repair after Ivan. Rex said he does not know if they will be able to help rebuild the homes again. “We’re looking at issues of funding availability and what volunteers will come again,” he explained.

And with the repeat flooding comes emotional issues. Rex noted that he has done spiritual counseling with several families dealing with the devastation of two floods within several months of each other. “These families are facing a great deal of upheaval, and they have questions about tomorrow.”

Rex’s own parishioners also suffered damage from the flood that wreaked havoc in riverside communities all along the Delaware. “Two have first floor damage to their homes, and another family that lives in a trailer is in bad shape,” he said.

In the meantime, he is recruiting as many volunteers as possible to assist the flood-stricken towns. Last weekend, hundreds of volunteers turned out to help neighbors clean up in Raubsville, Riegelsville and Upper Black Eddy.

Upper Black Eddy is another community like Raubsville – small and without much outside support beyond LDR and one or two local Lutheran churches. Rex said he hopes to continue helping these towns recover from this latest round of severe flooding. As he did during the recovery after Ivan, Rex is working with area businesses to get donations of building supplies and food.

 “We’re interested in helping the people who fall through the cracks.”

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