All Jammed Up!

Some of us may not be familiar with the term ice jam. It’s when ice chunks build up to form a dam. Water then builds up behind the ice blockage and can cause flooding.

The science of ice jams may be interesting but the results for people in Northeast Pennsylvania were devastating. Beginning on Tuesday, ice jams on the Tunkhannock Creek flooded several homes in Nicholson, Wyoming County. The American Red Cross Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter mobilized more than two dozen volunteers to provide lodging, food and clothing assistance to affected families.

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Flooding from the Tunkhannock Creek

However, the problems continued. Wednesday morning, a significant ice jam formed between Pittston and Wilkes-Barre along the Susquehanna River. This caused a sharp rise in water levels and began flooding streets in West Pittston.

Even before evacuations were ordered, the American Red Cross NEPA started readying more resources, including disaster workers and supplies. Eventually, evacuations were ordered Wednesday evening for dozens of homes in West Pittston, and the Red Cross opened a shelter at the Wyoming Area Secondary Center in Exeter. That shelter housed eight evacuees overnight. Another shelter in nearby Duryea was opened and managed by local officials, and the Red Cross provided the facility with supplies.

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‪The Red Cross shelter at Wyoming Area Secondary Center

By Thursday morning the ice jam had broken free with water levels quickly dropping on the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. All evacuation orders were lifted and the shelters closed after all residents had returned home.

The Red Cross reminds all residents that dangerous ice has been left behind by the flood event and everyone should steer clear of the ice. In addition, the rapidly changing conditions on the river serve as a reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness and being Red Cross Ready.

The Red Cross urges everyone to Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed. For more information, visit us on the web at http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies. For the latest weather alerts, including river flood warnings, download the Red Cross Emergency app today by visiting http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps.

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