Ice Jams Cleared, Residents Returning to West Pittston

WEST PITTSTON -- Ice jams broke up overnight, causing the Susquehanna River to fall from well above flood stage to well below.

Skycam 16 was over the river at West Pittston Wednesday afternoon when the Susquehanna was jammed with ice. The water was pouring into neighborhoods, forcing evacuations.

Skycam video from Thursday shows much of that ice has flowed down the river. The water is flowing freely and the river level is way down.

Susquehanna River at West Pittston Wednesday, left, and Thursday

What is left behind, though, are massive ice boulders lining the river banks.

People returned to their homes Thursday after a mandatory evacuation order was lifted. They were relieved that the unpredictable ice jam did not flood their homes.

Folks spent the morning scraping ice from driveways or looking in awe at the sheer size of the frozen chunks left in West Pittston by the ice along the Susquehanna River.

Those returning home were grateful knowing the flood waters that filled the streets stopped just short of their homes.

"Our anxiety level was through the roof through last evening, so today we can breathe and just pray that the ice melts and continues flowing down the river," said Nicole Klaproth.

The Klaproth family live along Susquehanna Avenue and had to leave Wednesday because of the possible flooding.

The 2011 flood left two feet of water on the first floor of their home and their basement was completely flooded.

When they left Wednesday, they didn't know what would happen to their home this time around.

"It always is a concern because we live right by the river, so whenever the river goes up, especially with this ice jam. I have never seen an ice jam like this before," Don Klaproth said.

There's a wall of ice stretching along the river banks. The freezing water left an icy line on trees in West Pittston.

Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz says there's only minimal damage throughout the borough. He's grateful things are getting somewhat back to normal.

"We are just in the beginning stages of the winter and I am hoping we don't get those fluctuations in temperatures and the water flowing like it is today," the mayor said.

Over at Agolino's Restaurant on Luzerne Avenue, owner Joe Agolino says he closed early to prepare for flooding.

In 2011, the flood water reached several feet inside his restaurant, but this time, water levels only reached the curb out front.

He's happy to be back in business.

"My kids wanted me to take everything out of the place. That would've been too big of a headache. I just rolled the dice and things worked out pretty good this time," said owner Joseph Agolino.

The West Pittston mayor urges sightseers to look at the ice from a distance and to not climb the ice chunks on Susquehanna Avenue.