Flood waters leave big clean up for Jefferson, Clearfield county towns

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After a Thursday storm dumped nearly eight inches of rain in parts of Jefferson and Clearfield counties--shutting down all roads into DuBois and sending 200 people to three Red Cross shelters--exhausted local officials are hoping the brunt of the cleanup effort will take just a few more days, though the effects will likely be felt through the rest of the summer.

"It definitely took a toll on a lot of these residents," said Tracy Zents, the director of emergency services for Jefferson County. "It's all kind of a blur."

Though Mr. Zents hopes most areas will be cleaned up by Monday, the effort has required round-the-clock work from local emergency workers, many of whom haven't slept much since the storm.

"Emergency personnel all got a little bit of sleep overnight," said John Scolese, the Reynoldsville emergency management coordinator in Jefferson County. "We're tired but we're doing what we have to do."

Local officials said damage assessments are just beginning.

In Jefferson County alone, 10 bridges overseen by the state were closed due to flooding and 60 more needed to be inspected, according to Deborah Casadei, a PennDOT spokesperson.

"Due to the extensive flooding, the crews will be busy through the summer repairing washouts, damages, drainage, and other clean up and repair activities," Ms. Casadei wrote in an email.

She said some people have moved barriers blocking bridges, but cautioned that these bridges have not yet been inspected after the storm.

Reynoldsville, Sykesville and the surrounding areas were all affected, but DuBois, a small Clearfield County city, was hit harder than most.

"The majority of the city was effected, even the higher levels," said Herm Suplizio, the DuBois city manager. He called the flooding 'massive' and said at least 100 businesses were impacted. "I don't know that this has really ever happened to us before, and really, there was very little warning."

Nickolas Suplizio, a lifelong DuBois resident and volunteer fire fighter said the flood water has receded in most areas, but the damage will be lasting.

"I don't know what's going to happen when people go back to work on Monday," he said. "Downtown was just completely gone."

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Alex Zimmerman: azimmerman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @AGZimmerman


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