Ice jam forces 2 trailer park evacuations

MIDDLEBURY CENTER – Several residents of two trailer parks here were evacuated by firefighters Wednesday afternoon when heavy rain and melting snow caused an ice jam that sent water over the banks of Norris Brook, flooding one of the parks.

Firefighters evacuated about eight people from about two dozen mobile homes along Route 287 in Middlebury Township two in Gee’s Trailer Park, which was flooded, and six from Marie’s Trailer Park, said Middlebury First Assistant Fire Chief Gary Cooper.

Cooper said the flooding was caused by an ice jam under a bridge on Route 287 near the parks, sending about 3 to 4 feet of water across the road and closing it for a short time, Cooper said.

Two of the eight were evacuated by boats provided by Middlebury and Wellsboro Fire departments and six voluntarily left, Cooper said.

“We went door-to-door to about 20 different homes or trailers,” Cooper said. “Some chose to stay in their homes.”

There has been no major flooding at Marie’s Trailer Park, which is on the north side of Route 287, he added.

“The concern is the dike on Norris Brook Creek,” he said.

Evacuees were taken to the fire hall to wait out the high- water event.

Following the evacuation, Cooper said the state Department of Transportation made the decision to close the road until the water receded down to about a foot, and then re-opened one lane.

Cooper said officials were “keeping an eye on the situation. If it breeches the creek dike, we will have more work to do,” he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Steinbugl said the ice jam flooding was the first the service had heard of with Wednesday’s rain event.

“We had the substantial snow that melted, warmer temperatures, runoff from the rain and residual ice that loosens up is a good recipe for ice jams,” Steinbugl said.

Steinbugl said the problem is “ice jams are unpredictable, and I suspect there with be more, but nothing major,” he added.

He said if people live near a creek, or in a low lying area, they should monitor water levels, and if there is flood warning issued, seek higher ground.

“If fire officials or emergency management officials tell them to evacuate they should heed those warnings,” he said.

No flood warnings were issued with the storm, mainly because the rapidly moving system was expected to change over to snow and ice.

“We are expecting to see some rising on main stems, like Susquehanna, as a result of snow melt, and potential ice jams could make that problematic, but no major flooding is anticipated,” he said.

For Tioga County, temperatures were expected to drop rapidly during the night and any lingering precipitation will be snow, 3 to 5 inches overnight.

It also will be “brutally cold” he said, with 35 mph wind gusts causing 20 below zero wind chills today.

This harsh cold will be short lived, he added.

Friday temperatures are expected to be back in the 40s, and over the weekend the temperatures will moderate into the 40s, melting some of the snow, Steinbugl said.

Williamsport will see much less snow, but it will be sharply colder.

Less than an inch of snow was expected overnight with wind chills not quite as low, around 0 or 10 below. Warmer temperatures were expected to return Friday and over the weekend, he said.