Shelter open to aid those impacted by storm

McCall Middle School in Montoursville served as a shelter Friday for those impacted or left homeless by the flash floods that hit overnight, according to Jeri Sims, regional chief executive officer with the American Red Cross.

The shelter opened at 7 p.m. to provide the flood victims basic needs such as a place to sleep and snacks and breakfast served in the morning, Sims said.

The agency was in a preparedness mode awaiting partners from the county emergency management agency to contact them if any need arises, Sims said.

“Emergency supplies and personnel were ready to go,” she said.

Scores of rescues and evacuations occurred in the hardest-hit part of the county from the village of Ralston to Old Lycoming Township, along the Lycoming Creek corridor, said John Yingling, director of the Lycoming County Department of Public Safety.

Shortly before midnight Thursday, the 911 Center began to respond to multiple calls. Staff was mobilized and an all-call alert given to fire stations.

Two state police helicopters were used as a means of detecting where rescues were needed and coordinating those with volunteers and staff in boats, Yingling said. One individual who was evacuated suffered a leg injury, he said.

Many roads were closed due to flooding in Lycoming and Sullivan counties. Among those was Bloomingrove Road just north of the city that was shut down for a time as a result of flooding of small streams and Grafius Run and Route 973 in Eldred Township, and Wallis Run Road in Cascade Township.

In Williamsport, firefighters rescued two stranded boaters in a craft that became disabled 1/4 mile west of the Maynard Street bridge at 9:20 a.m., according to the city firefighter on duty. The disabled boat was pulled back to a dock, he said.

Debris clogged up the trash racks on Grafius Run in the north section of the city. Grafius Run rose 4.25 feet over 12 hours, according to the flood gauge.

Water flowed down Hillside Terrance to areas on Market Street and Grampian Boulevard, said Tom Cillo, general manager of the city Streets and Parks Department.

A man living on Hawthorne Avenue said he had 4 feet of water in his basement.

The homeowner said he did not believe the city activated its equipment early enough and it needed to not just scoop it out but also to scrape off the grates from debris collecting there.

Cillo said the amount of rain overwhelmed the crews.

“We had guys in before it started to rain and equipment on site,” he said. “At some point all Hades broke lose. I have been told 4 1/2 inches of rain. That’s too much at one time; it’s out of human control. We had seven guys in before it rained. Mother Nature ran its course.”

City crews will continue to remain on duty to clean up during the aftermath and the pump stations will be operating through the weekend, Cillo said.