Heavy rain on Thursday night resulted in flash flooding that left people stranded in their vehicles, washed out roads and caused other problems with which emergency workers throughout Luzerne County had to contend.
The county’s Emergency Management Agency executive director, Steve Bekanich, said significant rainfall was seen across the county, with several roadways left impassable because water runoff was covering them. Several roads were washed out in the Back Mountain area, he said.
A Luzerne County 911 supervisor said the agency was inundated with calls and busy dispatching emergency workers to rescues.
Emergency crews responded around 9:30p.m. to the Sherman Hills housing complex in Wilkes-Barre, where Building 308 was taking on water through the roof and officials were evaluating the need for an evacuation, according to radio broadcast reports.
The 911 supervisor said at about 9 .m. it appeared that Kingston and Newport Township had been hit the hardest.
Bekanich received reports of people stranded in their vehicles in the Newport Township area and Kingston. Those areas had the most calls for service, he said.
“But just about everywhere is getting hit pretty hard,” he said when interviewed at about 10:05 p.m.
At least five vehicles were stranded in the parking lot at the Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville.
Marleny Encarnacion, assistant manager at La Tolteca Express in the shopping center, said water crept to within a few feet of the front door. “The water looked like it wasn’t going to stop,” Encarnacion said. But the business sustained no water damage.
Pooling water in the parking lot had mostly receded by 10:30 p.m., and trucks from Jack’s Towing were maneuvering in place to tow away the disabled vehicles.
In Wilkes-Barre, Mayor Tom Leighton and Fire Chief Jay Delaney were at Solomon Creek on Waller Street as of 9:30 p.m., surveying the status. Crews were in a “holding pattern” as of 9:50 p.m., getting people and equipment in place in case bridges needed to be closed.
Bekanich said he was not aware of any streams or creeks extending beyond their banks, except for a tiny creek near Frederick and Blackman streets in Wilkes-Barre.
Heavy rain and winds also caused problems in southern Luzerne County. A tree fell on two vehicles on state Route 93 in Sugarloaf Township, trapping people inside at about 9:20 p.m., according to radio reports.
The National Weather Service at Binghamton, N.Y., on Thursday morning had issued a flash flood watch for Luzerne and many other northeastern counties in effect from 2 p.m. Thursday through 2 p.m. today.
The Weather Service upgraded the watch to a warning, effective 7:27 p.m. Thursday; the warning was to remain in effect through 1:30 a.m. today.