The Lady Speaks

Water, water everywhere!

Update: (7/5/06) I need to make a correction to the following section of this post:

Athens Boro, on the other hand, is at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, and this area is no stranger to flooding. During the ’72 Flood after Hurricane Agnes, much of the downtown was destroyed. A couple years later, the Army Corps of Engineers built levees along both rivers to prevent future destruction. (My class was one of those that spent a couple hours spreading grass seed over the levee next to our elementary school.)

My mom corrected me on this. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that levees were unnecessary, that a flood of similar proportions was unlikely to ever occur again. The towns of Athens and Sayre raised the money, and local companies donated time and labor to build the levees themselves. And what a good thing they did! The water level from this flood was within inches of overtopping them.

M elementary school – which sits next to the levee – adopted the levees’ landscaping project. The students and faculty raised the funds to purchase grass seed and saplings that we later planted along the river bank.

* * * * *

Welcome to the “Endless Mountains” of Pennsylvania – currently known as the Endless Rains region.

After five and a half days of rain, we’ve got water everywhere. Living where I do in Sayre, I’m fairly flood-proof. If the water gets as far as my house, we’re going to need an ark.

Athens Boro, on the other hand, is at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, and this area is no stranger to flooding. During the ’72 Flood after Hurricane Agnes, much of the downtown was destroyed. A couple years later, the Army Corps of Engineers built levees along both rivers to prevent future destruction. (My class was one of those that spent a couple hours spreading grass seed over the levee next to our elementary school.)

These levees have held since then, but it looks like this is going to be their big test.

Around 10am, I rode along with my brother as we took a little tour to see how bad things are. At 10am, standing near the Athens Bridge, the river was within 8-9 feet of the top of the levee, and moving incredibly fast. From Rte. 220, we could see the Chemung River was within 10 feet of the top of its levee.

In the downtown area, merchants are busy emptying their stores and shops into rental trucks, the vehicles of family and friends, or vehicles loaned by other businesses. The furniture store is loading its stock into 18-wheelers provided by Rynone, Inc.; the Dandy Mini-Mart was emptied into trucks belonging to its parent corp, Williams Oil. According to the scanner, over 25 ambulances from various volunteer EMS squads converged on the nursing home downtown, to transport its patients to other, flood-proof facilities.

Flood stage here in Sayre is 11 feet, 15′ in Athens where the two rivers meet. We’re told that the Susquehanna will crest at 25-29 feet tomorrow morning.

Just heard on the scanner that one of the levees in Athens Boro is breaching and the Sayre River bridge will be closed to all but emergency traffic at 4pm.

My son the smart-alec (and future Democratic voter) heard the news and said – in a very serious tone, “Well, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that!”

North and east of us, Nichols, Owego, and Binghamton areas are seeing lots of flooding as well, and Interstates 88 and 81 in Binghamton are now closed. They’re expecting to close Rte. 17/I-86 sometime in the next couple hours. Most roads are closed or restricted to local travel as the cricks, creeks, streams, and rivers go over their banks. Not to mention the lakes and ponds.

So far we’re doing fine, but I’ll post updates if it all goes to hell. *laugh*

You can read more here – with the note that the area mentioned as “Bradford, Pa” is actually Bradford County, Pa. The town of Bradford is about 150 miles west.

* *

Update: (4:11pm)

Rte 17/I-86 is closed from Exit 65 east. Rte 17C is closed from Barton east. River Road is closed from Nichols NY to Towanda PA due to water over the roadway.

The Susquehanna is rising at about 2′ per hour.

Athens Borough has declared a state of emergency and is commencing mandatory evacuations. If you choose not to leave, I’d advise using a permanent marker to record your name and SS# somewhere on your body, so the recovery teams will know who they’ve found.

Read more here, and here. Interestingly, the AP story on YahooNews mentions helicopter rescues of stranded people…in Sayre. Odd…no one I’ve spoken to has heard about that, and no part of Sayre was underwater as of 10am. I think someone mixed up a helicopter responding from Sayre, thinking it was responding to Sayre.

We do have a helicopter attached to the Packer Hospital – STAT Medivac – but the only call regarding high water, etc, was last night – to see if two divers from the local water-rescue team could hitch a ride to Montrose PA to assist in evacuations there.

But, good news!! The Wal*mart is not closing despite its proximity to the Chemung. I guess HQ told them to stay open unless water starts reaching the merchandise?

* *

Rivers are still rising. Crest is now expected to reach 33 feet in Sayre, which means it will be much higher downstream. Wilkes-Barre is sure to be hit hard. Lots of questions being raised as to whether or not the levees down there will hold, considering the amount of pressure on them from high water and debris.

Down in Towanda, the crest is expected to be around 35 feet, which means it will reach the courthouse and Boro Hall. The new River Road/Merrill Parkway is already covered in some places.

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June 28, 2006 - Posted by | Flooding, Pennsylvania

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