Jane Wallis fought back tears as she recounted the evacuation effort that took place on June 29 at the Ferryboat Campground, a park she and her husband, Randy, own along the Susquehanna River 30 miles north of Harrisburg, Pa.
Rising floodwaters that day threatened to wash away the 300 campsites as well as 200 seasonal trailers, two homes and several camping cabins located on the Wallises’ property. Coming to their aid was a brother-in-law, a football coach who enlisted his team members to move all the possessions from their home to higher ground. Six other men manning three tractors hauled every seasonal trailer to safety.
“This is the third time in the last 18 months that we’ve had major flooding on the Susquehanna,” Jane Wallis told Woodall’s Campground Management, a sister publication to RV Business.
Campgrounds up and down the Susquehanna and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey faced similar conditions that developed after a foot of rain pelted the Northeast at the end of June.
President Bush declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid for many Pennsylvania counties. At least a dozen people were killed in the flooding, and hundreds of thousands were evacuated from cities throughout the flood zone.
Elsewhere, Delaware River floodwaters forced the closing on June 27 of the Driftstone on the Delaware campground near Mount Bethel, Pa., owner Earl Ackerman reported. Ackerman sent about 120 campers out and moved some 50 seasonal trailers to higher ground.
Floodwaters inundated 51 of the 338 campsites at Keen Lake Camping & Cottage Resort near Waymart, Pa. “All of lake sites were inundated,” said owner Janet Keen. “What I mean by inundated is that if you were to camp there, you would need an air mattress and an anchor.”
Several private campgrounds in the Catskills and Central Leather Stocking regions of New York State also were affected by the heavy rains, reported Donald Bennett Jr., assistant executive administrator for the Campground Owners of New York (CONY).
Among the worst hit was Pine Crest Campground near Windsor. Situated in the floodplain of the Susquehanna River near the Pennsylvania state line, the 104-site campground was swamped by floodwaters that were rising at the rate of 14 inches an hour. This occurred after the floodgates of a dam 30 miles upstream were opened, explained Donna Passetti, co-owner with her husband, Richard.
Although efforts were made to move some 75 seasonal trailers to safety, there was no high ground to move to, and most trailers were damaged beyond repair, she said. Two floated away and were not found. Passetti’s office/residence had six feet of water on the first floor, and all other campground buildings were damaged too. As a result, the park is closed indefinitely.
The Red Barn Campground near Hankins, N.Y., also along the Delaware River, was in a similar state. Flooding worsened after the dam’s gates were opened, Bennett said. The bathroom and equipment barn were knocked off their foundations. Campsites along the river were lost, yet the owners were hoping to reopen soon.
The West Canada Creek Campground near Poland, N.Y., suffered damage to its swimming pool, water system and playgrounds, Bennett said. The campground closed June 28 but plans called for a reopening by July 10.
Also on the Delaware, the Oakland Valley Campground near Cuddebackville lost 50-60% of its sites along the river. The campground was closed but could reopen soon. The Russell Brook Campground near Cook Falls, N.Y., sustained localized flooding and was closed so roads and a bridge could be repaired. Management hoped to reopen by this weekend.