Mandatory Evacuation Lifted in West Pittston

WEST PITTSTON -- UDPATE: West Pittston Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz announced Thursday morning that the mandatory evacuation will be lifted at 11:00 am.

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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.

9 comments

  • Givemeabreak

    It doesn’t help that the Army Corps of Engineers built the 8tg st bridge too low a few years back. It causes a damning effect with the river forcing water and ice back up river into West Pittston.
    The last flooding WP saw a similar backing up happened. It was built so low that the water would be able to go over it, I believe was the original intent but it only exacerbates West Pittston’s situation when the water rises or ice is in the river.

  • Regina

    why do you want to control a river that is not controllable ? just get off the flood plain this River. Every time a levee is created down stream it promotes more flooding up stream. records of flooding began in 1692 the people knew it was going to flood. they should have never built along the river they have the same problem with the Mississippi why would you have a home along the river you should expect flooding if you live along the river it’s common sense

  • The people of West Pittston

    Senator Bob Casey failed the people of West Pittston.Senator Bob Casey failed to lead and get West Pittston a Levee. The damaged properties and the broken hearts are due to weak and ineffective Bob Casey. Senator Bob Casey needs to be politically punished for failing to get a Levee for West Pittston. Election day is coming Senator. We remember. LOU 2018

    • joe

      The residents living in the flood prone area refused a levee.
      They didn’t want to spoil the river view.
      I hate to say it, but they know this happens frequently & this is the price they pay

      • Marlin

        I am sorry for people being hurt by this ice jam. I do believe however, that it is not simply a bridge or lack of a levee that is causing trouble. If one looks at a top map, several places, there are islands near and below that Severely restrict the water and ice flow in that section of river, this causing backup.

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