Rivers rise in Pennsylvania, New York; 100,000 told to evacuate
Driving rain from the remnants of former Tropical Storm Lee began pushing swollen rivers to their flooding points on Thursday, forcing about 100,000 people in Pennsylvania and New York to leave their homes for either higher ground or the safety of shelters, officials said.
In Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, about 75,000 were ordered to evacuate on Thursday, Board of Commissioner Maryanne C. Petrilla said in a telephone interview. The Susquehanna River was expected to crest around 2 a.m. Friday at about 41 feet, roughly the same height as the levee system.
“We’re hoping that the levees hold and that we don’t have massive flooding,” she said.
The county is running nine shelters -- and 4,100 people have sought sanctuary from the storm, which has caused flooding across a wide swath of the Northeast from Maryland to parts of upstate New York.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the hard-hit area around Binghamton on Thursday, where 20,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes. Rivers continued to rise in the area, which was soaked by remnants of Hurricane Irene last month.
“With the recent heavy rains and severe flash flooding, we are on the verge of a crisis, and federal assistance is urgently needed to help protect New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “I have directed state resources to areas that are currently experiencing widespread flooding to assist with emergency procedures.”
Cuomo’s office said that the state “has experienced another round of severe weather that rivals -– and may even exceed -– the devastation seen in previous flooding events, including the floods of 2006. Communities in eastern and central New York, from the southern Adirondacks to the Pennsylvania border, who were struggling to clean up and rebuild after Irene, are facing another onslaught of devastation.”
The governor’s office said some areas have received more than 10 inches of rain from Lee and that more rain is expected.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: Riverside Drive in Wayne, N.J., flooded Thursday when the Passaic River overflowed its banks for the fourth time in six months. Credit: Julio Cortez / Associated Press