For those who saw the Susquehanna River turn a muddy brown after the rains from Hurricane Irene, it's about to get murkier, still. As extensive flooding continues in southeastern Pennsylvania, swift water rescue teams are coming in from western Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River is forecasted to crest in Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg Friday and Saturday. Gov. Tom Corbett said the same teams were sent in before Hurricane Irene. "Last time we staged them for a short time at the farm show and then sent them to northeastern PA and to southeastern PA. This time as they're coming in, they're being directed where to go. And primarily they've been covering northeastern Pennsylvania," Corbett said.
Corbett said residents of low-lying areas should go to higher ground, and anyone on higher ground should stay put. "One of the things that I want to make clear is this is not a time to panic, this is a time to prepare," Corbett said. "It's raining. It's going to continue to rain, the waters are going to continue to rise. Now is the time to prepare, now is the time to look and take care of yourself and where you are."
According to the National Weather Service the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg reached heights of nearly 16 feet Wednesday, and might rise as high as 38 feet over the weekend. The record crest is 32 feet during Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
With the risk of flooding likely to last through the weekend, 500 National Guard members are standing by to assist in at-risk regions. Wyoming County has ongoing evacuations according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and 10 ambulances have been sent from western Pennsylvania to assist Bradford County residents.
The Governor says state officials are relying on county emergency coordinators for information about flooding in their areas, in part because low cloud cover has made it impossible to deploy helicopters to survey the rising waters.