Flooding from the Susquehanna River began to recede in some areas Friday as rains from the weather system formerly known as Tropical Storm Lee began to wane. As AP reported:
Northern stretches of the swollen Susquehanna River began receding Friday after days of rainfall from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee flooded communities from Virginia to New York, leading to evacuation orders for nearly 100,000 people.
The damage was concentrated along the Susquehanna in Binghamton, N.Y., in Wilkes-Barre, where more than 70,000 people were told to evacuate, and communities downstream in Maryland. The National Weather Service said the Susquehanna crested above 38 feet Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre — below the top of the levee system and under the levels reached after historic flooding spawned by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
“They did what was right for them, the people down there,” said Tom Vaxmonsky, a resident of West Pittson, just upstream from Wilkes-Barre. “But it’s like everything else, for every action there’s a reaction. And the reaction is that we got a lot more water than we did in ‘72 with the Agnes flood.”
As flood waters that inundated the city of Binghamton, which the mayor called the worst in more than 60 years, and surrounding communities began subsiding, the first of the 20,000 evacuees began returning to their homes.
Torrential rains have caused road and school closures and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents along the East Coast after heavy rains Thursday caused rivers to overflow and flash floods to damage cars and buildings. As AP explained :
Up to nine inches of rain fell in parts of Pennsylvania, and a similar amount fell in Binghamton. Rivers and streams passed or approached flood stage from Maryland to Massachusetts, and experts said more flooding was coming.
The storm compounded the misery for some people still trying to bounce back from Hurricane Irene.
Some of the areas hardest hit by the August storm, such as Vermont, avoided the brunt of the latest bad weather. But in Paterson, N.J., where the Passaic River was rising, about 75 people were still in a shelter because of Irene.
“We just finished cleaning up after the flood from Irene,” said Edith Rodriguez, who lived in shelters for three days and spent Wednesday night at a high school outside Schenectady, N.Y., because of Lee. “Now we have to start all over again.”
Commuters and other travelers searched for detours as highways and other roads were flooded out, including sections of New York’s Interstate 88, which follows the Susquehanna’s path. In eastern Pennsylvania, where hundreds of roads were closed, flooding and a rock slide partially closed the Schuylkill Expressway, a major artery into Philadelphia.
Amtrak passenger service on New York’s east-west corridor was canceled, as were classes at many colleges and schools across the Northeast.
At least 11 deaths have been blamed on Lee: four in central Pennsylvania, two in northern Virginia and one in Maryland, along with four others killed when it cam
N orthern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area also was hit with flooding, with 3 deaths currently attributed to the flooding in Virginia. As the Washington Post’s Allison Klein, Fredrick Kunkle and Tim Craig reported :
Flooding and rain continued to wreak havoc on commutes across the Washington region Friday morning, even as Thursday’s torrential downpours — which killed three people, trapped scores of terrified motorists, forced hundreds to evacuate and shut major highways — began to taper off.
Police identified the victims of the flash floods, two in Fairfax County and one in Anne Arundel County, Friday morning after family members were notified.
The victims included 12-year-old Jack Donaldson, who was swept away by the flood-swollen waters of Piney Branch Creek in Vienna, 67-year-old Arsalan Hakiri, who was killed near his stranded vehicle in Great Falls, and 49-year-old Daniel Lambert, who drowned in Pasadena, Md., authorities said.
On the roadways, drivers encountered general congestion throughout the region, with Interstate 395 North backed up for much of Friday morning.
“I can’t recall flooding like this. This is unprecedented,” Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said.
A stretch of the Beltway that had been closed Thursday night was reopened Friday morning. VDOT and Virginia State Police had ordered the Beltway closed from Route 1 to the Mixing Bowl at I-395, as the waters of Cameron Run spilled onto the highway, Morris said.
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