Gilbertson Flood Displaces Families

Jun 18, 2020

gilberton flood displaces families

 The Salvation Army supports first responders and flood victims

Gilberton, PA. (June 18, 2020) The water is starting to recede in Gilberton, Pennsylvania after heavy rains last week brought on flooding, which displaced 30 families from their homes. The Salvation Army stepped up to provide food to first responders and those affected by the flooding, as well as hotel vouchers for several families who were unable to return to their homes.

This is not the first time Gilberton has flooded. “When it rains a lot, the water goes up, then recedes. This time, instead of receding, it just kept getting worse,” explained Rebecca Netznik, Regional Manager of The Salvation Army Service Extension Department. “Every day they had to bring in pumps from different places. They even brought a pump in from New Jersey at one point to try to get the water out. As of Monday, four or five acres of land were still five feet deep with water.”

The flooding had a devastating effect on this small, impoverished town. “Pretty much most of Main Street was flooded, with at least 30 households affected,” Rebecca continued.  “A lot of the displaced residents are disabled, on fixed incomes, or elderly. The Salvation Army and the Red Cross coordinated efforts for temporary lodging and food for emergency workers, volunteers, and affected residents. I got a call on Sunday from the mayor asking for help to place some of the residents in hotels.  I arranged for four families to stay at hotels for three nights each.”

Rebecca described the families The Salvation Army assisted. “Two out of the four families had family members out of work due to COVID-19. One woman was laid off and just went back to work two weeks ago. She had to take off from work again because her home is flooded. One is a single gentleman who is disabled. Another family lives on Social Security and the husband is receiving end-stage cancer treatment. They don’t even know if they will be able to return to their homes because the flooding was that bad.”

The Salvation Army Pottsville Corps also stepped up to help. “After the rains on Wednesday night flooded the town, the mayor gave me a call to see if we could provide an evening meal for several days,” said Envoy Brad Harris, officer in charge along with his wife, Envoy Gina Harris. “We quickly got together a meal on Thursday night. I brought over some breakfast food for the first responders and volunteer firefighters. Then, for the next four evenings, we took meals over to the first responders and those residents who haven’t been put up in hotels and are remaining in the community."

Envoy Brad plans on providing evening meals for the next several days. “We are glad to do it. We built a relationship with the mayor during the last flood they had, and we had some donated food we were able to provide for 30 to 50 people.” 

Earlier this week, Envoy Brad brought 40 food boxes to Gilberton and distributed them to those residents who were remaining in the community. The food boxes provide enough food for a family of four to eat for several days. “This is pretty devastating. It is a small coal town - an impoverished area, so this really hits them hard,” Envoy Brad remarked.

Rebecca told the flood victims The Salvation Army will provide more support, as needed. “I said, ‘Here’s my number. Please call me.’ I know people are worried about their long-term situation. Those hotel vouchers are running out.” 

As the community begins the road to recovery, they can be assured The Salvation Army will walk with them every step of the way. The Salvation Army will always be in every community before, during and after a crisis. The Salvation Army is here. Here. For Good.  To give to The Salvation Army, please go to Here. For Good.

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