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Starting the flood recovery process in Schuylkill County

Schuylkill County residents are looking at a lot of hard work as the region was devastated by floodwaters on Wednesday.

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — The remnants of Ida dropped buckets of rain in Schuylkill County Wednesday, turning roadways to riverbeds.

"I've been here 13 years, and this is the worst. I've seen some flooding, but this is pretty horrific when I looked at what I saw last night," Mark Rivera said.

Rivera lives on the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds and saw Bear Creek swell from all the rain.

"The water was over the top of this creek, roaring down through here. Sort of like, almost like a river, it came over the bridge. As you can see the debris, it was moving rather large pieces here and there."

The floors of the pumphouse are now caked with mud. Branches and debris are lodged in the railings of this bridge.

The floodwaters scattered flower beds set up near one of the barns. Bear Creek has returned to a normal level but left behind a lot of work.

The water at the lake at Bubeck Park in Schuylkill Haven is back to normal levels after flooding Wednesday night forced road closures on all sides. Now, cleanup is underway.

Street sweepers were out on Wednesday, clearing debris from the roads near Bubeck Park in Schuylkill Haven. After a day of heavy rain, the lake flooded nearby streets Wednesday.

Craig Spotts has water in his garage and basement.

"I'm pumping out my basement. I keep 3 feet of sandbags on my back sliding doors."

But he believes the flooding could've been prevented. Spotts says the storm drains were installed about four years ago. They are meant to take the water from the street and put it back out into the lake. The problem, he says, is there is no backflow protection. So in the water rises as it did on Wednesday, it flows back through the drains and floods the homes on this street.

"Although the water didn't come over the bank, we still have about a foot and a half of water."

Schuylkill Haven borough has a different explanation, telling Newswatch 16 when the banks of the lake rise, water that collects in the drains has nowhere to go and starts to fill the streets. The borough administrator says once a glass of water is full, you can't pour more water into that glass.

There's no debating that floodwaters overtook a park in Landingville on Wednesday, coming close to the David Botzer's home on Canal Street.

"The river itself was actually right up to the street. The river is only about 150 to 200 feet from my front door," Botzer said.

His basement filled with 4 feet of water, all of it pumped out overnight. Sump pumps in the neighborhood were still emptying basements this afternoon.

"The neighbors next door are pulling their stuff out the day before, making sure everything was up out of the basement."

Botzer says it comes with the territory.

"If you want to live down here by the river in this nice little town, it's what we deal with."

At Bubeck Park, Spotts is still asking the borough to do something about the flooding there. He says it happens even during a routine thunderstorm. The borough administrator says water will seek its own level inside or outside the banks if the reservoir capacity is exceeded.