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Pennsylvania Pastor Rescued By Boat

Sep 23, 2004

The following story ran in today’s (September 23) Daily Leader-Times from Kittanning, PA.

By Mitch Fryer

NORTH BUFFALO, PA — A six-foot wooden cross lies flat in Sherry Zelinsky’s yard. It was the last of her outside property to give in to the deluge of water from nearby Glade Run during last Friday’s flooding.

“I told my husband that’s the first thing I want put back,” Zelinsky said. Zelinsky lost half of her new ceramics business, including molds, kilns and ovens, before she could prepare an inventory to get insurance.

A 4-foot-by-8-foot sign for the two-week old business, Sherry’s raft Corner, is nowhere to be found. “If anyone finds my sign, let me know,” she said.

Zelinsky’s home and business along with several other homes and the Villa Restaurant and the North Buffalo Grace Brethren Church in the Skinall neighborhood along Glade Run Road just off Route 28 near Cadogan were hit hard. The area was one of the worst damaged by flooding in the county from Hurricane Ivan-related rain.

The sweeping waters of Glade Run ripped off porches, buckled driveways, took out mailboxes, destroyed basements, garages, parking lots and foundations and left an 80-year-old couple stranded in their home to be eventually rescued by firefighters.

Ford Cliff firefighters worked day and night pumping water out of those homes. On Sunday, PennDOT filled in a 60-foot-long, 4-foot-deep, 4-foot-wide trench along the road, allowing some residents to drive off their property for the first time.

Clean-up was still a work-in-progress for residents yesterday. Autumn Travis has bought gallons of bleach and used up every broom she could get her hands on to clean her house.

“First it was crying, then laughter, now it’s anger,” said Travis of how she and her neighbors have reacted to the damage.

Travis has purchased a large dumpster for everyone to use, taken in a couple of orphaned kittens and cooked meals for neighbors. “We’re a community,” Travis said. “We have to take care of each other.”

Ralph and Julia Lindsay thought they could stay in their home until the waters went down but left through a window when the water rose three feet in their living room. Kittanning firefighters arrived by boat and broke a window to provide an exit for them. “The firemen said we had to get out,” Ralph Lindsay said.

The flood waters failed to spare the Grace Brethren Church.

“The Lord makes it rain on the just and the unjust,” church member Chuck Cousins said.

Members have been cleaning the basement of the church since Sunday where four feet of water damaged books, Bibles, Sunday School supplies, a piano, appliances, an elevator and rugs. A large piece of the church parking lot’s blacktop was found in the middle of the creek 100 yards downstream.

“The mud was so sticky that it took three washes,” Leone Cousins said. “But we shall overcome.”

Church pastors Richard and Rose Cornwell and their dog were rescued by boat from the church parsonage. They had to take the dog to the veterinarian for a tetanus shot after it became ill and stopped eating.

“We were saying our prayers the whole time,” Richard Cornwell said.