Sharon Barton trims a hanging basket in a Dietrich’s Farm and Nursery greenhouse, which had a foot of water in it after the severe storm that struck
Sharon Barton trims a hanging basket in a Dietrich's Farm and Nursery greenhouse, which had a foot of water in it after the severe storm that struck the area June 10. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)

It looked bad. Like, really bad.

Powerful chocolate-milk-colored waters spawned from a freak summer storm had warped a heavy metal garage door, seeping a silty mess more than a foot high into the interior of Ray Dietrich's business.

Worse was the damage outside, where waters rose as high or even higher, washing away almost everything not fastened to the ground.

As the sun went down June 10 on the muddy scene, and despite being through flooding before, Dietrich questioned whether he could ever reopen Dietrich's Farm and Nursery in Seven Valleys.

But with the help of relatives and friends, the nursery didn't have to close its doors any day because of the flood.

Dietrich said workers and volunteers pushed in the following hours and days the accumulated mud out the door before it hardened -- a key to the speedy restoration.

Also, his elementary school-aged grandchildren and others retrieved plants that floated into a nearby ball field.

"They had a ball," Dietrich said of his grandchildren.

More than a dozen family members, friends and nursery workers pitched in by the weekend.

As for the outside grounds, Dietrich said they were scraped with heavy equipment to remove deposited sediment. A supplier sent down eight loads of stone in short order to resurface the area.

Joell Fry used to work full-time for Dietrich and still picks up some part-time hours.


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She said she was more than glad to help out when she heard what happened.

Fry said she helped hose off the floors and then ran a shop vac to suck up excess water for about five hours.

"A lot of muddy work," she said. But it was worth it.

Fry also said she wasn't necessarily surprised so many people came out to help. She said the Dietrichs are great people.

"A lot of people really care about the nursery," she said.

John McDonald, president of the local fire company, said the area is prone to flooding every few years. But this time around, the waters really rose quickly, when nearly 6 inches of rain that fell that afternoon.

Because of Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Jeanne a few years ago -- the store is in a flood plain, after all -- Dietrich took out a Small Business Administration loan for flood improvements following those storms.

Drain space under the floor and a sump pump disguised in a corner closet helped quickly clear the water this time around.

Also, installed masonry along the lower three feet or so of the showroom walls helped prevent permanent damage, which could have occurred from having wood or drywall submerged in the waters.

Dietrich said many customers were amazed the shop was in working order so quickly.

Of course, some things could not be salvaged, including many of the shrubs that were on bench displays. They floated away like little boats, Dietrich said.

What remains of the stock that was inundated is now on sale, including affected shrubs and perennials, with many 50-percent off signs around the property.

And a small Toyota delivery truck sat totaled in the very back of lot.

Dietrich will miss that truck.

ABOUT THE STORM
According to forecasters at the time, a small but fierce storm system stalled around the Seven Valleys area of York County in the afternoon of June 10, dumping 5 to 6 inches of rain in a relatively short period of time and swelling the South Branch of the Codorus Creek.

Residents remarked the freak storm seemed to cause waters to rise more quickly than during previous hurricanes that trounced the area, namely Ivan and Jeanne in 2004.