Officials in northeastern Pennsylvania called for a mandatory evacuation of more than 100,000 residents living along the Susquehanna River on Thursday due to expected flooding. The area was inundated in the historic Agnes flood of 1972.
Luzerne County Management Agency official Frank Lasiewicki told The Associated Press Thursday the river is projected to crest at 41 feet between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday — the same height as the levee system protecting riverfront communities including Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.
Residents were ordered to leave by 4 p.m.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said residents should prepare for an extended evacuation of 72 hours and advised them to take clothing, food and prescription medicine. He also asked city businesses to close their doors by noon.
The evacuations come as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped heavy rain and caused havoc around the Northeast on Thursday, bringing floods that cut off major highways and caused some schools to open late or not at all.
Flood watches and warnings were in effect from Maryland to New England.
Roads and highways were closed around the region. In Philadelphia, flooding and a rock slide closed the eastbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway, a major artery into the city, and it could take hours for the road to reopen. In New York, the Thruway Authority expected Thursday to close a 105-mile stretch of Interstate 90 where it runs along the Mohawk River, which had overflowed its banks in some areas. It's the state's most heavily traveled east-west highway.
In eastern New York, thousands of people were expected to evacuate the flood-battered Binghamton area Thursday, and some schools were closed in the surrounding area.
Flood of Pennsylvania :100,000 Evacuated, 4-10 Inches of Rain on the Way
Emergency management officials in Broome County ordered additional evacuations early Thursday for Binghamton neighborhoods near where the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers converge. Mandatory evacuation orders were also issued for the neighboring villages. In all, some 10,000 residents in the county were under mandatory evacuation, officials said.
Two rain-related deaths were reported in Pennsylvania. Police in Derry Township said a man who was removing water from his basement was killed when the house's foundation collapsed, and a motorist trapped in a vehicle drowned early Thursday morning in Elizabeth Township, in Lancaster County. "Now it's getting on my last nerves," said Carol Slater, 53, of Huntersfield, N.Y., on the northern edge of New York's Catskill Mountains and just outside of hard-hit Prattsville.
The National Weather Service predicted rain would continue to fall heavily across the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states through Thursday with anywhere from 4 to 7 more inches falling and up to 10 inches in isolated pockets.
In New York, Prattsville was cut off on Wednesday afternoon, its main roads covered with water as public works crews tried to dredge the creeks to alleviate the flooding. Trash bins stood in the mud-caked streets to collect debris left by Irene and the wreckage of houses destroyed by the earlier storm still dotted the area.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michael Hill and Rik Stevens in Albany, N.Y.; John Curran in Montpelier, Vt.; Genaro C. Armas in State College, Pa.; Bill Poovey in Chattanooga and Alex Dominguez in Baltimore.