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Both sides of Pigeon Creek were hit with heavy runoff on Memorial Day and even more damaging erosion in the heavier deluge of the afternoon and evening of June 4.
And both sides have had extensive logging and mining in the past few years.
At first many residents thought the White Flame and Mingo Logan mountaintop mines were to blame for their damages. But residents and DEP inspectors have found more runoff from logging. The pages for Pigeon Creek and Shady Woods explore the land disturbances on the south side of the creek. This page looks at some of the worst flooded parts of the north side of the creek between Horsepen Mountain and Varney.
Ronnie Smith and his family had only lived in his house on a hill on the north side of Pigeon Creek for four months when the flood hit. His house is two miles west of Shady Woods and across the road from Mallard Lester, whose garden was buried by a rock slide off the mountain.
Smith, a railroad worker for more than two decades, first thought the mines were to blame. But when he walked up the mountain behind his house, he found a large logging site and a network of logging roads. He videotaped the patterns of water flow and washouts. The roads sent water and rocks cascading down a gully, landing behind and in front of his house. In fact, a few cut logs can be seen mixed in with the rocks at the center of the photo. Smith also took me up the mountain across Route 52 from his house. We found logging and an old mountaintop mine contributed to runoff there. (See Pigeon Creek).
Smith called the owner of the logging company and told him that he wouldn't file a lawsuit if the company would clean the rocks out of his yard. The owner said he would, but no one ever came to clean up. Now Smith is talking to lawyers.
"The logging industry doesn't want to be regulated," he said. "They've got to get after them. They cut all those roads in the hills."
Smith is not sure he is going to stay in his house. The rear foundation is damaged by the rock slide, and the basement was flooded. His homeowner's insurance doesn't cover the damage. FEMA won't help. And he can't afford an SBA loan. He is considering applying for a FEMA buyout and moving to Tennessee with his wife.
Like so many other flood survivors, he heads to higher ground whenever a hard rain comes.
Another hard hit hollow was Little Muncy. These hills have been logged, and a valley fill was built at the end of the hollow a few years ago. Cut logs can be seen in the washout in the photo on the right. Houses at the bottom of the hollow were hit hard by rocks and mud.