Biden, who spent his boyhood in nearby Scranton, toured the flood-ravaged community of Duryea along with Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Bob Casey, seeing firsthand the massive damage wrought by flooding that surpassed records set by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Biden encouraged homeowner Jimmy Pliska to rebuild the twin home that had been in his family since the 1920s.
"Hang on," Biden said. "This is no time to give up."
Piles of debris line the streets and the musty smell of mildew hangs in the air in the Duryea neighborhood that was flooded when the Lackawanna River rose over its banks.
Pliska, an auto mechanic, said before Biden's arrival that he didn't see any reason to rebuild the large twin with the gray siding and wrap-around porch, which has been stripped to its studs after being swamped with five feet of water.
"Why? It's going to happen again," he said.
Pliska broke down and sobbed as he pointed to a black and white photo of his father as a young boy sitting on the steps of the family home. Nearby, his 11-year-old daughter, Julia, and 12-year-old son, James, wore masks as they worked in the house.
The record flooding along small streams and the Susquehanna River damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. The deaths of at least a dozen people have been connected to the flooding.