When Devastation Hits Your Hometown

Thursday, September 8, 2011
I was born and raised just minutes from picturesque Hershey, Pennsylvania. I'd wake to the rich smell of chocolate, and I'd fall asleep under a sky filled with stars so bright that you'd swear they were close enough to touch.

Summers were spent at Hershey Park riding roller coasters again and again until we couldn't see straight. We'd take country drives that ended in visits to a creamery that sold ice cream produced with milk from local dairy farms. They were the best of times.

But yesterday, my hometown fell upon the worst of times. The beautiful countryside of central Pennsylvania was ravaged by torrential downpours which resulted in massive flooding when Mother Nature unleashed her fury in the form of Tropical Storm Lee.

Devastation. Destruction. Despair.

People who have spent their entire lives in the small towns surrounding Hershey admitted to having never seen anything like it. It was an horrific storm of monumental proportions. It will take weeks to assess the damage. The full extent won't be known until the water recedes.

Roads were impassable. People reported being completely surrounded by water as if on an island.

The house in the foreground used to belong to my sister and brother-in-law. They moved into a bigger home 2 years ago. They spoke with the current owners who informed them that water filled the entire basement and half of the first floor. Can you imagine?

Rescues were happening everywhere. Here a boat easily clears the second story of a home.

This is the main entrance to Hershey Park. Two bison from Hershey Park's Zoo America had to be euthanized when they were spotted drowning in rushing waters.

As waters begin to recede, buckled roads are becoming a familiar scene.
*all photos are from the Inside Hershey Facebook page

I feel so helpless knowing that friends and family are suffering the devastating effects of the flooding, and I can do nothing to help. As upsetting as these pictures are to me, I can stop looking at them. I've been checking Facebook all day today and yesterday for pictures.

I haven't lived permanently in central PA for over 20 years, but so much of my life's memories are there. When such a storm hits so close to "home", it becomes personal. Even being hundreds of miles away, I can't help but to feel affected by the flooding. To see these familiar places and landmarks covered in water is utterly upsetting.

Mother Nature has not been kind. Here's to hoping she snaps out of her funk.


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