Flash flood rips through 267 corridor

BY STACI WILSON

Carmalt Lake Rd. in Choconut Twp. is open only to local traffic, after a flash flood ripped away the edges of the roadway as the raging creek jumped its banks. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Carmalt Lake Rd. in Choconut Twp. is open only to local traffic, after a flash flood ripped away the edges of the roadway as the raging creek jumped its banks. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Heavy rains concentrated over the Route 267 corridor from the Lawton to the state line at New York for about three hours Thursday night – causing streams to jump their banks and impacting the area with flash flooding.

The storm system that passed through the area dumped three to five inches of rain over most of the area but a pocket of rain concentrated over the Friendsville area, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Susquehanna County EMA Coordinator Paul Johnson said most of the issues involved water across the roadways along the county’s main western corridor. The storm also affected homes and bridges in Choconut and Forest Lake townships.

As of Monday in Forest Lake, Stewart and Hall roads were closed; in Choconut Twp., Carmalt Lake Rd. was restricted to local traffic.

During the storm, a mobile home park on Creekside Court Lane was evacuated by emergency personnel. The fire company on the scene evacuated 10 people from theirs homes, according to Johnson. Two families at the property opted to ride the storm out at their residences.

Johnson said the county’s emergency management personnel, along with township supervisors and emergency management coordinators had done preliminary damage assessments.

Forest Lake Twp. reported damage on 12 roads, with some roads having areas of multiple damage.

Choconut Twp. reported damage to 14 roads, including the bridge on Carmalt Lake Rd. One house, near the intersection of Carmalt Lake Rd. and SR 267 appeared to have taken the brunt of the water.

Johnson said no injuries or fatalities have been reported in connection with the storm.

Four passengers in a car located near Friendsville Hill Rd. were rescued by Rush Fire Dept. prior to the arrival of the swiftwater rescue teams.

Forest Lake and United fire companies, along with Tunkhannock’s water rescue team approached a stranded vehicle on Quinn Road but nobody was found in the vehicle, Johnson said.

As the high water issues were beginning to materialize, the county’s communication center lost its 911 system.

With 911 down, the county mobilized its communications trailers.

“We knew we had active rescues already going on at that point,” Johnson said.

United Fire Company handled radio transmissions until the mobile communications center was up and running.

The lightning strike that took down the phone system is believed to be the same one that affected the courthouse, Johnson said.

On Friday, switchboard capability at the courthouse resumed and by Monday afternoon most of the affected lines had been restored.

Although rain concentrated along SR 267, a lightning strike is believed to be the cause of a house fire in Hop Bottom.

In terms of damage, Johnson said Thursday night’s flash flooding was not as severe as other flood events have been in the county. He said no homes were impacted with severe first floor flooding, often associated with river flood events.

But, he said, it was severe in that it “came on so fast and affected one concentrated area.”

When the communication center went down, all local fire departments were asked to man their stations. “Most remained manned until all units were released from the house fire,” Johnson said.

Water rescue teams from Hallstead and Susquehanna were joined by teams from Wyoming County, along with ones from Vestal and Endwell, N.Y., also responded.