Skip to comments.Mandatory evacuation for all areas affected by Agnes flood; river expected to reach 40.7 feet
Posted on 09/08/2011 9:04:16 AM PDT by Born Conservative
UPDATE: With the Susquehanna River now projected to crest before midnight Thursday at 40.7 feet, Luzerne County officials accelerated their deadline for a mandatory evacuation order.
Residents in a wide swath of the county, from Exeter Township to Shickshinny, must leave by 4 p.m., four hours earlier than the initial evacuation order, county officials said.
We want people to heed our order and leave, Commissioner Stephen A. Urban said at a 9:45 a.m. briefing at the countys emergency management headquarters. Its significant. We want them to leave.
The evacuation order, covering a region devastated by flooding following Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, affects tens of thousands of people and at least 10,000 structures, Commissioner Thomas P. Cooney said.
View a map of the areas affected by the 1972 flood
CONFIDENCE IN LEVEES
The region is now largely protected by a levee system that officials said would guard against river levels of 41 to 43 feet slightly higher than publicly reported, Urban said.
Were confident the levees are going to work, Urban said. All of the pump stations are operational.
Still, people shouldnt chance it, Urban said.
Officials said they were asking the Pennsylvania National Guard to deploy 300 troops to aid in the evacuation, up from an earlier request of 50.
We want to protect lives, he said.
SHELTERS NOW OPEN
Shelters were established at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, State Street Elementary School in the Wyoming Valley West district, Lake-Lehman High School, Dallas Middle School, Misericordia University in Dallas, Wyoming Area High School, GAR High School in Wilkes-Barre and Solomon Plains Elementary School in Plains Township.
A shelter at Pittston Area High School was full, officials said.
Evacuees should bring non-perishable food, water, clothing, medications and toiletries as well as bedding, such as air mattresses, sleeping bags and pillows. Evacuees should also bring identification to aid their reentry into affected areas once the evacuation order is lifted.
Pets are welcome at the shelters, officials said. Pet owners should bring pet food, water, a pet carrier and necessary medications.
DRIVING AWAY FROM DANGER
Numerous roads and bridges were closed due to flooding, including the Market Street Bridge connecting Wilkes-Barre and Kingston and Route 11 in Edwardsville.
Evacuees should use the Cross Valley Expressway, the South Cross Valley Expressway and other elevated main thoroughfares, Luzerne County Emergency Management Director Steve Bekanich said.
Officials said volunteers were needed for sandbagging at Kirby Park, the Wilkes-Barre side of the shuttered Market Street Bridge and at a staging area at the former Valley Crest nursing home in Plains Township.
About 100 volunteers were also needed at the shelters, Bekanich said. People interested in volunteering should call the Wyoming Valley chapter of the American Red Cross at 570-899-5421.
Mayor Tom Leighton has ordered all residents living in the Wilkes-Barre's flood zone to evacuate their homes today.
Leighton ordered residents of the Goose Island section of the city and those living along Solomon Creek in South Wilkes-Barre to evacuate by 2 p.m. and before roadways flood. This will be the third time in two weeks residents near Solomon Creek will be forced from their homes.
Residents living near the Brookside levee system, Chestnut Street, Laurel Run Creek and Mill Creek also should leave their homes, Leighton said. All told, the mayor expects 20,000 people to be displaced, possibly for up to 72 hours, he said. Residents should take adequate food, clothing and their prescription medications, he said.
This evacuation has been ordered for your safety for that of your loved ones and your homes, Leighton said. We are a strong community. We are resilient. We will come back and well endure this storm.
City police and fire personnel will begin going door to door to notify residents of the evacuation order. Leighton also asked business within the flood zone to close at noon today to allow their employees to prepare.
The city has identified primary areas of concern that include the neighborhoods around Solomon Creek, South Wilkes-Barre neighborhoods along the river, neighborhoods along South Pennsylvania Avenue from Wood Street to East South Street, and areas north of Public Square to East North Street.
Both Wilkes University and King's College have closed for today and have emergency evacuation plans, Leighton said. The Wilkes-Barre Area School District has also been closed.
The city has arranged for vans from Volunteers of America to help transport those with disabilities. Residents who need help leaving their homes should call 911, and the city will respond, Leighton said.
We will not forget you, he said.
The latest forecasts project that the Susquehanna River will crest at 40.7 feet between 9 tonight and 9 a.m. Friday. The levee system is designed to protect up to 41 feet.
The city will vacate city hall and move its command center to Coal Street Ice Rink.
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Luzerne County officials have ordered the mandatory evacuation of about 120,000 residents of the Wyoming Valley by 8 p.m. tonight for all areas affected by the Agnes Flood of 1972.
The Susquehanna River is expected to crest at 39.6 feet by 5 a.m. Friday, which would be the second worst flooding event in area's history.
There is a 30 percent chance of a higher crest, officials said.
The Wyoming Valley Levee System protects Wyoming Valley communities along the river up to 41 feet.
Officials expressed confidence in the levee, but the projected crest is "coming too close for comfort," Emergency Management Agency director Steve Bekanich said at a press briefing this morning at EMA headquarters.
"We do not anticipate any problems with the levee system. Forty feet is within the design. However, there is still uncertainly with what the forecast will be," said Jim Brozena, director of the Wyoming Valley Flood Protection Authority.
The evacuation order is expected to last until at least Sunday for people who live along the levee system, and possible early next week for people in the low-lying areas, officials said.
"This is going to be an extended evacuation," said Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen Urban.
There are three shelters throughout the county for those affected by the evacuations. Evacuation centers are set up at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, State Street Elementary in Larksville, and Pittston Area and Wyoming Area high schools.
Officials said they are looking to open evacuation centers at GAR High School in Wilkes-Barre and Solomon/Plains Junior High School in Plains Township. They are also setting up three shelters in the Back Mountain area at Lake-Lehman High School, Dallas Middle School and Misericordia.
Pets are welcome at the shelters.
"We are doing this with the safety of the citizens of the county in mind. We want to ensure folks have ample opportunity to get out of the area that will be impacted or has the potential to be impacted by this near record flooding situation that is affecting our area," Bekanich said.
Bekanich ran down a list of things officials "strongly suggest" people bring with them: a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable foods, changes of clothes, hygiene products, first aid kits, prescription medications, important documents, insurance information, and identification cards. He also suggested making sure priceless photographs and family heirlooms and other valuables are taken to higher ground.
"We do want to emphasize there is time. We want to make sure everyone is out by 8 p.m this evening. We want to make sure people do this orderly and safely," Bekanich said. "Take into account your neighbors and friends. Go and check on them if you know someone who is homebound or has medical needs."
Here is a video from Bloomsburg earlier today (Fishing Creek; the river will be flooding Bloom later today): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVpNAeCiuSk&feature=share
When I saw the name ‘Agnes’, I immediately thought of the ‘72 storm. We had it really bad in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I was just a kid, but I remember vividly how high the water got.
It’s crazy. I grew up about an hour southwest in Lewisburg PA, my parents and sister & fam still live across the river in Milton - the 2 towns straddle the Susquehanna there. All area schools are closed, downtown Milton is flooding (water breaching walls built after 72 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which usually serve Milton quite well), the river in Lewisburg is expected to crest (they keep raising it) at 7 ft over flood stage, lifelong residents are amazed by what they’re seeing.
I don’t think I’ll be making it to work in Watsontown tomorrow....
Milton has put a curfew in place for the area bounded by the river, the railroad line (runs N/S thru town), and borough limits north and south.
I'd drive over to check things out in L'burg, but Rt.45 is closed 'tween me and the river, as is the road up to Milton and across the bridge to the north that way, as is the bridge 'tween Northumberland and Sunbury, which is the only way across to the south.
Soooo, it's shaping up to be a fine afternoon for nap !
Oh my, you guys are both local. Did you see this list of road closings from WNEP? It’s unbelievable -
There’s a river running through Knoebels - they just posted more pics on facebook. I know they flood often, but I think this is one of the worst.
Thanks, I’ll check out the link.
What a mess this is. Co$tly as well!
Thanks for the new thread. Our flood problems seem to get lost in the larger news.
It’s bad folks! Going to be worse than Agnes. Old infrastructure collapsing everywhere.
An evac order just went out for Wilkes-Barre. Many smaller towns have been evacuating since last evening.
This is very sad:
Hershey Park ZooAmerica Euthanizes Bison:
Two bison who lived at ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park in Hershey were shot on Wednesday because they were drowning and could not be rescued as Tropical Storm Lee inundated Derry Twp., officials said.
There has been a lot of farmland paved over in the past 29 years, so even a lesser rain will create equal or greater flooding.
The weather pattern is eerily similar to June of 1972 when we had a training thunderstorm event (like this one) which saturated the ground and produced some flooding—then came Agnes less than a week later.
Many complained how the media ‘overhyped’ Irene...now REAL flooding has come to town, and media coverage of this event seems ‘subdued’...
Isn’t that the truth!
I guess Pennsylvania isn’t as sexy as NYC and Vermont!
There will be billions in damages to all these businesses.
Also a lot of infrastructure damage.
Let’s see how long Pennsylvania has to wait for emergency funds from Washington!
three deaths reported already:
Derry Township police say a 70-year-old man killed late Wednesday was pumping water from his flooded basement when a wall collapsed on him.
Walls in at least three basements have collapsed along Grove Street after a drainage ditch overflowed and water filled basements nearly to the first floor.
The man’s death is one of three in the midstate tied to flooding.
In Lancaster County a motorist trapped in a vehicle drowned early Thursday in Elizabeth Township.
In Lebanon County, the driver of a vehicle that was disabled in high water was struck and killed at 4:30 a.m. Thursday in the 2200 block of West Cumberland Street, said North Lebanon Twp. police. The driver was attempting to warn motorists of the potential danger of high water.
I lost 3 trees to the fast moving creek water in my back yard.
This, after losing electricity for 5 days from Irene.
That’s awful! Stay high and stay safe, and if you can’t—evacuate!
This flood is worse than Agnes!
The creek runs thru the park. Evidently there was no time to get them out.
. All of Hershey is a flipping mess. It took me two hours to get home last night from Hershey to Fishing Creek Valley and two hours to get back into work this morning due to flooding on 322.
Oh and 322 is closed at the Fort Hunter exit.You will not be going into Dauphin and points beyond. You will need to go across the river on 11/15.
Here are some pics from the Lewisburg area from about an hour ago.
Bear in mind that the Susquehanna won't crest til sometime tomorrow or Saturday, and at a significantly higher level than in these pics.
(click on these to see larger versions)
The first two were taken from the I-80 bridge over the Susquehanna, just a couple hundred yards from where the Interstate is closed to the east .. from the river to at least Bloomsburg.
Looking north at what is usually Rt.405 headed to Watsontown, but now totally submerged.
The traffic signs on the right stand about 8ft above the ground.
Next one is looking west toward the river.
The trees in the foreground just off the nose of my truck sit well back from the riverbank, and a good 8' above the water on a normal day.
This one is looking north from Market St. in Lewisburg at the old railroad bridge.
Normal river level is about 8-10ft below what you see on those piers .. well, the little bit of the piers you cansee.
The Market St. bridge crossing the river into Lewisburg from the east is closed.
This has prompted a celebratory atmosphere of folks gawping at the bazillion gallons of chocolate milk haulin' ass to the Chesapeake Bay.
Same “party atmosphere on the bridge between Berwick and Nescopeck.
I was a pre-teen then, and remember both vividly (born in ‘63). Yes, there is infinitely more runoff now. In addition, the communities north of Wilkes Barre are screwed, as the levee doesn’t go up that far, causing the water that would have been in WB/Kingston to instead spread out further before it gets to the levee. I’ve been seeing pics of West Pittston (where I grew up), and the waters are already as high as Agnes, with more to come.
Gee, I’m thinking “Maybe Ray Gricar’s body will surface.”
I was thinking the exact thing when standing close to that RR bridge.
Could see where his MiniCooper was parked when clicking the shutter.
'no tellin' what's gonna float up outta this mess'
This is over...all the local “reporters” have lost that gleam in their eye. That seem nearly depressed.
This has just been posted:
Here is another picture of Route 87:
These pictures are from a friend of mine's facebook page. She has some others I'll post as well. Prayers to everyone along the River. Its like the Sock turned in to the Susquehanna and the Susquehanna is turning into the Mississippi.
WNEP has some incredible pictures - 4 slideshows. Here’s a link to the 4th - http://www.wnep.com/weather/severeweatherhome/wnep-wnepslideshowseptember-part4-20110908,0,2430508.photogallery
They’re sickening to view. The damage is horrific, billions indeed. Looking at them I found myself getting really pissed that they spent hours hyping a little wading water in NYC a couple weeks ago. Where are they now? Not even one story on FNC’s front page. This might be as bad as 72. Stay safe, all.