As a lifelong resident of the Susquehanna River Valley, I would like to explain a bit about why I am volunteering to support the residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Community as they face displacement by Aqua America to make way for a water withdrawal facility for hydraulic fracturing. In an article in the newspaper yesterday titled "Riverdale Hope?," we were called "anti-gas industry activists" and that is not an accurate description of who we are.
We are here to support community, something which has always held a strong place in the heart of Pennsylvanians. While not from Jersey Shore, I am from Benton on the Columbia/Lycoming County line, and that is why I am here. When I heard that the gas industry was displacing 32 families, I immediately thought, regardless of my views on gas drilling, that I wanted to be there. Imagine your home being taken away; imagine being told you must leave your community, for industry. Imagine being displaced from the river we have grown to love and hold spiritual in our hearts.
To me, home means that hundreds of years ago, my family, the Hess's and the Hartman's settled in the Red Rock area in hopes of offering the family line a piece of land to work and live and sustain themselves upon. Up until now, that has been provided. Now, the gas industry has moved into town. My family has a gas lease on our land, so I have been paying close attention to how the gas industry has affected lives locally.
The situation here at Riverdale is alarming at best. These folks found out in the newspaper one day that they were about to be forced to leave their home, many without any other safe place to live, family to stay with, or money to use to move somewhere else. Some of the Riverdale residents work for the gas industry, and because of this situation, are being forced to gut their homes and relocate by the very industry they work for. Many of the residents left are not anti-gas industry, and they asked those of us who are here to come in as volunteers in support of community and in support of home, something Pennsylvanians can all understand. We will be here only as long as the residents of Riverdale ask us to be here, and that is why we are still in place.
Most of us are fellow Pennsylvanians here to support friendly people who would give their neighbors the shirt off their backs if it was needed. We have developed a code of conduct for volunteers who come in which asks them to leave their personal agendas at the door. We are here simply to support the residents of Riverdale. We are not anti-gas industry, we are friends of Jersey Shore residents, here to offer support in a time of dire need. We are here to support a community in need. Just like when the flood back in September of 2011 devastated the Susquehanna River Valley and residents put their lives aside no questions asked to help displaced neighbors, we are simply neighbors helping neighbors.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom