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City workers kept busy as rains increase risks of flooding

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Rory Peters, 10, left, Chance Fox, 6, middle, and Braden Fox, remove debris from storm grates and keep the water flowing on Highland Terrace after a downpour Monday. Chance and Braden are the sons of Michael and Lexi Fox, and Rory is the son of Kelly Travis and Andrew Peters, all of Williamsport.

City officials were operating a backhoe and log-picker to remove debris from Grafius Run as heavy bands of rain pelted the region Tuesday — rain that isn’t expected to let up until Thursday.

“I pretty much have our crews planning to work around the clock at Grafius Run and other locations,” said Adam Winder, general manager of city streets and parks department.

An expected crest of 16.3 feet of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River Thursday had him putting all nine pump stations on to churn away flood water from the business district and lower residential areas.

“We have backup power in case a pump fails,” he said.

Barry Lambert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College, said the periodic rain bursts and occassional thunderstorms with downpours can be expected through Thursday.

To assist the city officials, residents can clear any debris that collects along the curb on the street and remove debris from catch basins, Winder said.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said the rolling series of storms is going to cost overtime, but said it is necessary and needed.

Calls heard on emergency services channels typically are for downed trees and branches with soil saturation and a canopy of full foliage on the larger trees easily weighted down by the periods of very heavy rain and brief gusty winds, Lambert said.

Communities and sections of boroughs and townships that are often the first to flood can be tracked using the historical data provided by Lycoming County.

When the Loyalsock Creek reaches 7 feet on the Loyalsockville gauge, water typically is on the bike path under the green bridge in Montoursville.

Just two more feet on the Loyalsockville gauge has historically been set by the weather service as the benchmark for the caution stage elevation for the Loyalsock Creek Watershed.

From that point, such as 10 feet and higher on the Loyalsockville gauge, and Montoursville officials have historically been notified about the likelihood of flooding at Mill Street and nearby businesses.

Once the water gets to 12 feet or above on the Loyalsockville gauge, moderate to severe flooding historically has occurred in the borough and the remainder of the lower Loyalsock Creek.

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