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Cleanup continues along Otter Creek

tank hill 28The Otter Creek Nature Preserve is lined with debris. Although to call household appliances like a propane tank and random pieces of vehicles simply debris or garbage would be an understatement.

Remnants of what used to be homes are strewn about the banks of Otter Creek, lining the preserve's trails in the wake of the Aug. 31, 2018, flooding that ravaged pockets of eastern and southern portions of the county.

It has been more than four months since homes and vehicles were washed away, leaving some with merely a house's foundation and others with even less than that. Recovery is long underway, yet work remains.

This was brought to the attention of the Lancaster County Conservancy, steward of the 112-acre preserve that is so passionately used by fishermen, campers and hikers. Volunteers saw the mess and began lending their efforts even in the gusty, bitter cold.

"Our charge is to protect the land," said Phil Wenger, president and CEO of the conservancy. "Whenever nature is under assault, we activate."

It should not surprise people to know volunteers activated. There are piles of debris organized near the base of what Wenger calls the river gorge. Signage posted to trees denotes collections of wood, metal and plastic.

Conservancy members joined a York County Prison work crew, Mason-Dixon Trail System, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, the county's Office of Emergency Management and state and county elected officials to assess what needs done on a January morning.

Some volunteers hand-carried heavy items up a hill and into a dumpster stationed on Furnace Road.

As has been the case after such devastating floods, it will take more time. The conservancy and other stakeholders need to act fast. What if more rain pummels York County in 2019 than what saturated the area last year? Another deluge could cause further devastation in an area still on the mend.

Conservancy members are optimistic they can get things cleaned up by early spring if they get enough help. Future cleanup events are slated for 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24. People interested in helping can sign up for the cleanups at this link. Anyone wilth questions should contact the Lancaster County Conservancy at 717-392-7891.

-- Mark Walters, public information officer for York County

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