Tag Archives: flooding

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.

ice jam 2

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.

ice jam 4

‪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 For the latest weather alerts, including river flood warnings, download the Red Cross Emergency app today by visiting

As of 5/1/14, 2:00pm

All American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania flood shelters are now closed. In all, seven shelters were open at one time or another, with a maximum of four open at once. More than 110 people came through the shelters, with more than 50 spending the night.

The Red Cross continues to urge residents to remain vigilant about flood waters. They shouldcontinue to heed warnings and emergency officials’ advice. Drivers should never attempt to drive through high water. Below is a link to more flooding safety info.

The recent flooding is an important reminder how unpredictable Mother Nature can be and the importance of being prepared. The Red Cross encourages people to download the Red Cross free flooding app iPhone and Android. It will alert people when there are watches and warnings. It also provides info on what to do before, during, and after flooding hits. The app can be found at or by searching Red Cross on Apple app and Google play stores.



I don’t know if our Red Cross friends have noticed, but this part of the world is damp. Sometimes, it’s too damp. Southeastern Pennsylvania experiences several torrential rainfall events a year, and while this makes our local flora lush and green, we also live with the threat of flooding, especially in low-lying areas.

The Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania is committed to helping people in our area be prepared for disasters all kinds. Recently, we have been developing applications for iPad, iPhone and Android to help people act safely and responsibly in the event of an emergency. Our newest app, provided in both English and Spanish, deals with the most common disaster in the United States: flooding.

Floods are extremely dangerous because they occur quickly and with little warning. A road can become impassible in a matter of seconds. A house can be submerged in the same amount of time. The flood app will have location based NOAA flood and flash flood warnings to let users know when they are in danger and should evacuate. It will offer one touch “I’m safe” messaging to family and friends, as well as inform users of critical steps to take in order to stay safe. The app provides the locations of Red Cross shelters, resources for recovery and opportunities to learn more about helping friends and neighbors when the water get too high. These include interactive quizzes and badges you can earn and share on social networks. It even provides a flashlight, strobe light and alarm to make others aware of your location

Everyone who lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania should download this app. When the unexpected occurs, we are filled with questions. What should we do? Where should we go? What should we remember to bring? What dangers should we worry about and anticipate? The Red Cross is doing a tremendous service by making the answers to these questions as accessible as a smart phone. The flood app will save lives, it will provide essential information in real time and it will assist people to recover when the waters recede.

Here’s wharco_blog_img_FloodAppt the National Office of the Red Cross has to say:

The Flood App is the latest in a series of Red Cross emergency preparedness apps that put lifesaving information right in the hands of people whenever and wherever they need it. These apps allow people to make critical, lifesaving decisions.

All Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

Apps are not a substitute for training. Go to to take a First Aid and CPR class so you’ll know what to do in case emergency help is delayed.

Flooding3With heavy rains amongst us and the peak of hurricane season fast-approaching, it’s important to be prepared and know some basic safety tips when it comes to flooding. Floods not only occur frequently, but the resulting damage can be quite costly. They are often caused by heavy or steady rainfall for several hours or days that saturate the ground. Particularly, flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. Often weather forecasters will use different terms to describe floods. While a “flood/flash flood watch” describes a possible flood in your area, a “flood/flash flood warning” emphasizes that a flood is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

In addition to knowing the predicted weather conditions of your region, it’s important to be prepared for any possible or sudden evacuations. When a flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground. Stay away from all floodwaters and keep children away from streams or running water.  If you do happen to come across a flowing stream of water that reaches above your ankles—stop, turn around, and go another way. Stick with the motto, “Turn around, don’t drown!” Remember, six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.  These basic rules also aFlooding1pply when driving. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are quickly rising, move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. It’s especially important to be cautious at night when it’s harder to recognize flood danger and difficult to perceive how deep the water really is. More tips on flood preparation can be found here.

While it’s definitely important to be aware of these basic safety tips when it comes to flooding, you can find more tips on what to do right before, during, and after a flood by using the free hurricane app from American Red Cross for iPhone and Android. Along with tips, it provides preloaded checklists, tracker maps, and alerts that can help you in times of a flood watch oFlooding2r warning. It even provides emergency tools such as a flashlight, strobe light, alarm, and an “I’m Safe” feature that allows you to communicate with others on your current condition via Twitter, Facebook, SMS, and email.  In times of flooding, stay informed, be prepared, act smartly, and make use of the tools available on the Red Cross Hurricane App.

Download the app here for iPhone and here for Android.

-Khushbu Majmundar, Americorps NPRC member

Below is what our volunteer Emery Graham wrote for while deployed with public affairs to Illinois for 10 days helping with flooding there. He’ll post some personal observations in the days ahead.



American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania public affairs volunteer Emery Graham, on deployment, working on an article and his photos at the Illinois flooding Disaster Operations Center

The American Red Cross helps families during the first days after a disaster and continues helping families and communities develop long term recovery plans. In the first few days after the flood waters receded from the Millpoint trailer park, in Sprayland, IL,  debris was everywhere and the Red Cross provided rakes, shovels, and clean up kits to help the families begin to bring order to their surroundings.

Suzanne Neal and Ricardo Colon, Red Cross volunteers, have brought shovels and rakes to Jenny Sarver’s home. Jenny offered her home as  the central pick up point for other families in the area. Jenny’s son Shaun, and his dog Angel, watched as Ricardo brought equipment onto the front porch. Shaun thought the flooded river was fun because he caught lots of fish and his first leopard frog. Jenny showed her appreciation with a big hug for Suzanne.

To date, in the Illinois flood areas, Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 39,000 bulk items  and over 64,000 meals and snacks to affected families and individuals. Your support is vital in this effort and words of appreciation and gratitude are constantly voiced by the many individuals and families helped by your donations.

Illinois flooding couple

Valarie Trigg: ” Thank God for good neighbors. It has been a great help to have a warm meal. It really means a lot that the Red Cross is here.”
Millpoint, Spring Bay, IL

Here’s link to more Illinois flooding photos, including several by Emery.