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As waters abate, Lycoming County commissioners offer praise

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Top, locals in Watsontown sit at a pavilion as the muddy Susquehanna River flows high.

Three days of rain showers have resulted in showers of praise from the Lycoming County commissioners onto local volunteers, municipal officials and county emergency staff who have worked all week to help those in crisis due to flooding.

“I’d just like to thank all the volunteers who are out there in a time of crisis,” said Commissioner Tony Mussare on Thursday. “It’s amazing how people come together around this community. The dedication that our borough council members and township supervisors have — they’re out and about in some dangerous situations, evaluating things. They take their jobs very seriously.”

“Some of them were working through the night, leaving at 2:30, 4:30 in the morning,” added Commissioner Rick Mirabito, referring to county Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management staff. “We do appreciate that very much.”

Commissioner Jack McKernan added to his colleagues’ praise, and suggested people say a prayer that this weekend will be full of sunny days to give waterways a chance to subside.

Mussare also commented on the everchanging state of local water beds. Island growths due to sediment deposits and other issues are leading to easier flooding, he said.

“Naturally, it’s not going to take as much water to flood. It’s obvious we’re having more severe flooding and part of it is everything that’s in our streams and rivers,” he said. “We should seriously look at what we can do about that.”

In another matter, the county will work on the Swift 911 emergency alert system, which drew ire communitywide after many received repeated calls over the night Monday into Tuesday, Mirabito said.

“The alert system didn’t work the way the commissioners had hoped but, on the bright side, had the situation been worse than what it was, at least our folks would have been notified,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to correct it, we do. But I hope that the public will understand that the spirit in which it’s intended is to make sure that the public is safe.”

In the meantime, municipal officials should be out assessing damages and estimating costs — the state Department of Transportation offers that service for free, said Mark Murawski, county transportation supervisor.

“We don’t really know if there’s going to be a disaster declaration issued or not, statewide,” he said. “We do know that you better have your cost numbers put together in order to capture the opportunity to get reimbursed.”

County and state inspectors will be out once the water subsides to inspect bridges, he added.

On that topic, in the midst of the flooding, a large pipe was washed away from a bridge construction site at Marsh Hill, Murawski said. The contractor was about a week ahead of schedule, but now may be behind due to having to rebuild the causeway.

“So, if anybody sees a big pipe in their yard, call us,” he laughed.

The wet weather is above average for the region.

With a total of 11.73 inches of rain for the month so far, July 2018 has become the wettest on record for this area, according to Craig Evanego, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at State College.

For the year, the Williamsport area is over a foot above the normal amount of rainfall, as of Thursday, with 35.69 inches so far, compared to the normal of 22.44 inches.

From last Saturday until yesterday, a total of 7.52 inches of rain fell on the area from a system that has finally moved on, Evanego said. A front coming through the area could bring with it a few showers or thunderstorms although they should be fairly scattered. There is also the potential for gusty winds to accompany these storms, but the most severe storms should remain east of here, he added.

“We should be able to eke out a nice weekend,” according to Evanego, before another unsettled weather pattern moves into the region for next week.

That system will bring the chance for showers pretty much every day from Monday until the end of the week, the meteorologist said.

Following is the list of road closings, with some roads re-opened, as released by the state Department of Transportation at 8 p.m. Thursday:

Lycoming

• Route 405 between Interstate 180 and Main Street in Muncy Borough.

• Quarry Road between Hanson Quarry and Route 44 in Limestone Township.

• Middle Road between Van Buren Road and Shed Road in Limestone Township.

• Little Pine Creek Road between Route 44 in Cummings Township and Route 287 in Pine Township.

• Little Pine Creek Road between English Run Road in Pine Township and Little Pine Camp Area Road in Cummings Township.

Bradford

• Centerville Road between Berwick Turnpike Road in Ridgebury Township and Wilawana Road in Athens Township.

Columbia

• Route 339 between Dog Town Road and Mountain Shadow Lane in Beaver Township.

• Middle Road between Jackson Road and Jefferson Road in Cleveland Township.

• Millville Road between Millertown Road in Mt. Pleasant Township and JTM Enterprises/International Housewares Inc. in Bloomsburg.

• Mt. Pleasant Road/Charmund Road between Boro Alley and Route 487 in Orangeville Borough.

Montour

• Market Street/Ridge Drive/River Drive between Clinic Road in Mahoning Township and Mt. Zion Road in Cooper Township.

• Steckermill Road between Route 54 in Derry Township and Narehood Road in Liberty Township.

Northumberland

• Shakespeare Road between Route 45 and Hobbes Road in East Chillisquaque Township.

• South and North Mill roads between Route 642 and Shakespeare Road in East Chillisquaque Township.

• Mile Post Road between Shikellamy Avenue and Mt. Pleasant Road in Upper Augusta Township.

Snyder

• Middle Creek Road between Bake Oven Hill Road in Penn Township and Market Street in Union Township.

Sullivan

• Route 220 between Route 405 in Wolf Township and Route 42 in Davidson Township.

• Ogdonia Road between Route 87 in Hillsgrove Township and the Lycoming County line.

Union

• River Road between St. Anthony Street and Route 15 in Kelly Township.

• Cold Run Road between Creek Road and Stover Road in Lewis Township.

• Creek Road between Davis Road in Hartley Township and Swengel Road in Lewis Township.

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