WEST PITTSTON -- UDPATE: West Pittston Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz announced Thursday morning that the mandatory evacuation will be lifted at 11:00 am.
The ice jam on the Susquehanna River has now lead to a flooding emergency in a community in Luzerne County.
West Pittston officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for areas affected by flooding as water from the Susquehanna River is surging onto some streets.
As night fell in West Pittston, the flooding continued to worsen.
Wyoming Avenue near the Fort Jenkins Bridge was covered with water from the Susquehanna due to the massive ice jam clogging the river, forcing a mandatory evacuation of the areas of the borough affected by flooding.
Scott Reilly's family lives on the flooded Montgomery Avenue. They were packing up long before the evacuation was ordered.
“When you've been through it so many times, after the last one it was the same situation. It was right up there and we couldn't figure out and within an hour or two it was right in front of the house and we had to go,” said Reilly. “So we're just doing what we can.”
Traffic going into West Pittston on Wyoming Avenue was halted, but there were plenty of vehicles heading out after the issuing of that mandatory evacuation order.
The Red Cross set up a shelter for West Pittston residents at the Wyoming Area Secondary School in Exeter.
“There's going to be some access to food and cots and sleeping conditions. We have showers in our locker rooms so we can make access to if people need to take showers,” said secondary school principal Jon Pollard. “I understand there's coffee that's warming up.”
People living on Susquehanna Avenue in West Pittston had made plans earlier in the day once they saw flooding on their streets.
“We have a hotel reserved for tonight if need be,” said Clark Heron.
Gino Brogenski works at HDC Distribution and says once the river flooded Susquehanna Avenue in front of the building, it was time to call it a day.
“Once we saw the water break, they said that's it. Get everything that's important. Get the computers. Get all our files. Get everything ready. Load them up in the truck, and we're getting out of here,” said Brogenski. “My car was sitting in the road when it broke. I just about got my car off the road.”
Still, Brogenski says the ice jam is a marvel to look at.
“I've never seen anything like this in my whole life, never seen anything like this,” said Brogenski. “Not with the icebergs or anything like this. This is incredible. It really is incredible.”
The Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency says the Fort Jenkins Bridge, which connects West Pittston to Pittston over the Susquehanna River, is now closed to traffic.
Some schools in Luzerne County will be closed on Thursday due to flooding conditions. Wyoming Area School District, Holy Rosary in Duryea, and Wyoming Catholic are closed Thursday.
Once again, the mandatory evacuation is for the areas of West Pittston affected by flooding.