Environment
5:43 am
Fri September 9, 2011

Corbett on flood damage: “We’re going to have more”

Governor Corbett urged residents Thursday night to steel themselves for ever-rising waters.

"There is a lot of damage and I hate to say it, we're going to have more," said Corbett. "The water now flooding the cities in the north is only going to flow in one direction, and that's downstream."

He pointed to slides of a bridge in Montoursville off its supports, and the grounds of the Bloomsburg Fair underwater.

14 wastewater treatment plants along waterways have been shut down – 12 are "impaired." Corbett said all flood water is toxic, though untreated sewage will be diluted by the flood.

"In some respects the flood is the solution," said Corbett. "It will be spread out. But in talking with the Department of Welfare and the Department of Health, this isn't something you want to go play in."

The Susquehanna River in Harrisburg was at about 25 feet around 9:00pm Thursday. "And climbing," said PEMA director Glenn Cannon. The river's expected crest is down by half a foot from previous forecasts. It is still expected to reach its peak late Friday to early Saturday.

The Susquehanna in Wilkes-Barre was at about 39 feet around 9:00pm Thursday.

The Governor stressed that all residents should stay away from flood waters. He singled out people who got close to take pictures.

"One of the reports that we had were people walking out along the levee in Wilkes-Barre, and saying, 'Look how close the water is,'" said Corbett. "That becomes a mission."

More than 1200 National Guard members are on duty to assist with flood response – rescue missions, food and water distributions, traffic direction. Governor Corbett said they have evacuated 60 people by ground, and 76 people and six dogs by air.

The state has also deployed swift water rescue teams. Corbett said 19 teams are working in northeastern Pennsylvania, with two more on the way.

Corbett said he's concerned the break in rain will trick people into thinking the worst is behind them.

"It's nice out there right now, compared to what we've experienced for the last four days," he said. "People are going to relax, but all that damage is coming down this way. It's toxic."