Agnes stole Jerry Long’s belongings and forced him to move his wedding to another church, but Lee was even more menacing and threatened his livelihood. Long, of Plymouth Township, is a survivor of both top two record Susquehanna River floods caused by tropical storms Agnes in 1972 and Lee in 2011. Lee was more damaging to his township, which has no levee, because the water was higher. The river crested at 42.66 feet on Sept. 8, nearly 2 feet above the previous record of 40.9 feet on June 24, 1972. But Agnes still stands out because Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Plymouth and other levee-protected communities were flooded back then, Long said. A levee-raising project that began in 1997 contained the river in September. “Agnes was devastating to more people, but the communities not protected by levees got a lot more water this time,” said Long. His business, Township Auto on Route 11, had 9 feet of water in September, compared to the 7 feet recorded under another owner in 1972. He was 17 during the ’72 flood, which topped the roof of his family home on Route 11. Furniture and photos hauled to the attic for protection were gone, and the house had to be destroyed. Long and his family scrambled to find an undamaged church and alert guests for his wedding three weeks after the flood. He remembers people predicting Agnes was a “once-in-a-lifetime event.” “It didn’t turn out that way,” said Long, who reopened his business in November. Township resident Charles Graboske, 60, remembers “old-timers” saying the prior record flood of 1936 wouldn’t be surpassed when he was a boy, and they’ve been proven wrong twice. The September flood was déjÀ vu for Graboske, who guarded the family home on Allen Street in the township in 1972. He tied his boat to the house and dozed off on the second floor, never expecting to awaken to the sound of lapping water that had reached his floor. He frantically boarded his boat, mourning the loss of his fully submerged, pristine black ’66 Chevelle. The house had 18 inches of water on the second floor, destroying most of the family’s belongings. The water level was a bit higher at the structure in September, prompting the new owner to tear down the structure, he said. Graboske now lives in the Heights section of the township, well above the flood zone but has been helping his sister fix up her home from September’s flood damage. He took his 10-year-old grandson on a boat in September to survey the flood damage, telling him it looked the same in ’72. “I never thought I’d see another one like it,” he said. Benchmark redrawn Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority Executive Director Jim Brozena said a growing number of residents in levee-protected communities have no concept of Agnes because they are too young or didn’t live here at that time. Residents were told to evacuate in September if their property was impacted by Agnes. “Many people don’t know what Agnes was. We are looking at a new means of explaining how far people must evacuate if this happens again, rather than saying areas that had been impacted by Agnes,” Brozena said. The details of Agnes will continue to fade because the levee held in September, sparing more than 14,000 properties in areas that flooded in 1972, officials say. “This flood was worse, but because of the work done over the last 30-some years, it really became a non-event in some areas impacted by Agnes,” Brozena said. “People in Wilkes-Barre and others areas didn’t see the flood others were dealing with.” Plymouth resident Ellyssa Saroscek, 20, knows Agnes through flood line marks on downtown borough buildings and stories from her parents, Theresa and Ed. “I know it was a really awful flood. The whole town pretty much got ruined,” she said. The family’s Ferry Street property is close to the levee and sustained basement flooding in September from seepage. ‘The big flood’ of 2011 Exeter resident Gene Mizenko, 72, watched the Susquehanna stop about 200 feet from his home at the corner of Schooley and Susquehanna avenues in 1972. But when he talks about “the big flood,” he now refers to 2011 because it crept closer to his property. Borough officials decided to build their own earthen levee in the middle of Susquehanna Avenue in September because the borough has none. “We wrote thank you letters,” said Schooley Avenue resident John Broda, 60. Broda drove trucks loaded with sandbags during Agnes and saw the aftermath. The water came too close for comfort in September. “Two of them is enough. This last, it was a scary one,” Broda said. Plains Township resident George Owen, who lived in a Plainsville section house that had been owned by his parents before the September flood, said the structure had 3 feet of water in ’72 and 6 feet last year. He and his wife, Laurie, put the property on a buyout list because they can’t live with the uncertainty, and neither would his daughter when he offered her the home. A mobile home filled with belongings on their neighboring parcel also was destroyed. The mobile home was given away for scrap, freeing up space for a new RV that’s now home for the Owens. They plan to make it their permanent residence on wheels as they travel the country. George got sentimental gazing at the acre-plus grassy lawn with mature trees leading to the river’s edge, including some black walnut trees he planted as a boy. His parents hosted family reunions on the grounds with 350 guests, horseshoe games and tables heaped with food. Then he looked at his flood-ravaged house. He recently ripped out porch wall backing to replace it and found traces of clay-like mud trapped inside from 1972. “I don’t want to clean another house again. I don’t want to do this anymore.” New flood boundaries West Pittston resident Dick Foglia was told his Philadelphia Avenue home had 33 inches of water on the first floor in 1972, compared to nearly 6 feet in September. His rental property next door also sustained first-floor flooding. More borough properties had water this time, redefining the new flood of record’s boundaries, he said. “September made a whole new flood plain,” said Foglia, who lived with his wife, Dana, at their Harveys Lake property for more than five months during clean-up. “We’d be extremely happy to have a levee here. It would increase property values 100 percent.” Scranton Prep teachers Kathleen Klynoot and Tom Gorman led a group of students cleaning up September flood-damaged West Pittston properties last week. Gorman said he was surprised to see some borough residents are still not close to returning home. The landscape brought back memories of Agnes for the teachers, both Pittston residents, who had helped family members clean up in 1972. Gorman said he’ll never forget the mud and coffins washed into the backyard of his cousin’s house in Forty Fort. Klynoot found debris and carp in her brother’s new in-ground pool in Swoyersville in 1972, and that property and the Kingston home of her other brother both had water up to the first-floor ceiling. Agnes downed telephone poles, oddly depositing them between some homes, she said. “They had tremendous devastation. There were all sorts of things you’d never expect to see,” Klynoot said.