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Portland Rising: Town makes rebirth after 3 floods in 1.5 years

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 17 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 18 2013 06:18:55 PM CDT

The opening of a grocery store is not a typical headliner but don't tell that to the people of Portland, Northampton County.

PORTLAND, Pa. -

The opening of a grocery store is not a typical headliner but don't tell that to the people of Portland, Northampton County.

"It's absolutely wonderful I feel like it is Christmas," said Sabrina Lis.

The present on Sunday was Portland Market reopening. It had been dark for three years.

"It's wonderful to see town coming back. I love living here, it's a great community," Jenny Collier said.

It had been decimated by the Delaware. Three floods in a year-and-a-half destroyed Main Street. In June of 2006 the Portland Market sat in six feet of water.

"It's been dubbed the Ghost town of the slate belt," Portland's Mayor Lance Prator said.

Prator also says whatever the flood didn't wash away, the economy did.

"As we walk down Main Street what's the sense do you get?" I asked him.

"Lot of pride. Pride in stores opening up, pride in business coming back," he said.

By mid April, four new business are set to open, including a Bagel shop and American Precision Machining, which sits inside the borough's old Ambulance Center.

"I was a little concerned. They eased my concerns, explained the area, how things are, and that led to my final decision to come here," owner John Vallance said

" Was there ever a time when you thought Portland would be erased from the map?" I asked to Mayor Prator.

"No" he said. "The beauty of Portland and "portlanders" is we step up to the plate, it's a community effort."

Perhaps none more so than Duane and Nicole Smith. The pair spent a small fortune re-opening the market after the floods. They eventually sold but still run the store.

"A lot of people depend on us, when we were here. I think the big deal is they don't have to travel anymore," Duane said.

Neither do local business owners, who're now ready to have Portland's economy rise again.