A Report From Wilkes Barre

Unheralded Tropical Storm Lee has brought the worst flooding to Northeast Pennsylvania since Hurricane Agnes of 1972. There have been four reported deaths as of this morning, Sept. 9.

Father James Hayer of St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Wilkes Barre reported this at 6:09 a.m.

The Susquehanna River has flooded, cresting at almost 39 feet a few hours ago. It was expected to crest at 40.7 feet, which was a deep concern because the levee system maximum height is 41 feet.

We are only 2 blocks from the river, but everything here by the church (695 N. Main St.) is ok so far because we are on high ground. So far, 65,000 people have been evacuated from the Wyoming valley.  The river crested this morning at 1AM and has begun to recede, but is still flowing very fast.

If the levee holds within the next 12 hours, the water should slow down and recede even further – so we are thankful, but holding our breath. Unfortunately, many communities not protected by the dike system are now underwater.

Our biggest concern near the church is becoming landlocked and/or losing power. Deacon Ed and I went to bless the river yesterday morning after liturgy and, within 10 minutes, the dry grass was covered. 40 minutes later, that road was closed. The water levels rose very quickly yesterday, exacerbating the problem for many people.

Thanks for your prayers and concern.

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