Floodwaters at New Wyalusing School
By David Keeler
Floodwaters are lapping at the door on the lower level of Wyalusing’s new $27 million elementary school, which has been in use only since September 1. Muddy water is about six inches up on the exterior of lower level of the building. A look inside reveals that the floor, at least near the door, is damp, but damage does not appear to be extensive. The upper level of the school is unscathed, in what will likely become known as the worst flooding in the region’s history.
The nearby high school complex is untouched by floodwaters. The baseball, soccer and football practice fields are all submerged.
Across Route 2010 from the school, a portion of Grovedale Vineyards is underwater, but the winery and nearby funeral home are untouched. The area where Wyalusing’s wine festival was to have been held on Saturday is covered with several feet of water.
At Wyalusing’s Rainbow Bridge, water is up even with the bottom of the bridge but as of about 3 p.m. had not breached the bridge deck.
As of 4 p.m. flood reached historic levels when in Meshoppen the fiver reached 44.24 feet, surpassing the Hurricane Agnes Flood when the river crested at 43.51 in Meshoppen. At Towanda ,the river crested today at 30.52 and at last report had dropped to 29.88, making the Towanda level the second highest on record.
The business community along Route 6 has been especially hard hit. The Wyalusing Creek is out of its banks and roaring through the PenMart complex where there are numerous submerged trucks. The PenMart building appears to have partially collapsed and is surrounded by several feet of water.
The Wyalusing Valley Children and Youth Center is filled with water, and nearby, the train cars filled with sand waiting to be unloaded at the Wyalusing depot are surrounded by water. In one place, water washed away the tracks and three or four of the cars toppled over on their sides.
At Peoples State Bank, water is up about five feet on the building. In the parking lot, only the tip of the trunk of a car said to belong to bank employee Leona Fitzgerald is visible.
Ace Hardware is filled with water and owner Mark Woodruff, his father and others spent the afternoon moving items to higher ground. Woodruff just purchased $50,000 of dry concrete to sell, which was ruined by the flooding.
At D.G Nicholas Auto Parts, items floated off shelves and are jammed against the plate glass windows at the front of the building.
All the businesses in the Wyalusing Creek Plaza are filled with water. The muddy water is a toxic mix of diesel fuel and other contaminants.
Wyalusing Fire Chief Adam Dietz said Wyalusing firefighters have rescued about 20 people, mostly from the Standing Stone area. Those people are staying in a shelter at the Wyalusing Fire Hall. Dietz, who was manning a boat ferrying people to Ace Hardware and back, said he hadn’t heard of any fatalities.
Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative reported that it is working to restore power to about 1,000 of its customers. Outages are scattered and widespread throughout Claverack’s service territory, with the highest concentration of outages occurring in areas served by the co-op’s Plank Road, Litchfield, Herrick and Evergreen substations in Bradford County; Middletown and Franklin Forks substations in Susquehanna County; and Osterhout and Hollenback substations in Wyoming County.
Flooding has resulted in numerous road closings throughout the region, hindering work crews’ ability to access some areas where outages have been reported.
“We are restoring outages as best we can,” said Bobbi Kilmer, president and chief executive officer. “However, due to flooding and road closings, we can’t accurately project how long members will be without service. Members should be prepared for the possibility of being without power for several days.”
Claverack is being assisted with restoration efforts by line crews from Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative.
Members are reminded to stay away from downed power lines. Fallen lines may still be energized and should not be touched. To report downed lines or outages, call Claverack at 1-800-326-9799.
Members are also urged to stay clear of electrical equipment located in standing water. If water is in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords in a flooded basement or other room, avoid stepping into or otherwise coming into contact with the water.