KETR

Susquehanna River Drenches Small Pa. Towns

Sep 9, 2011
Originally published on September 9, 2011 5:02 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And as we hear from Scott Detrow of member station WITF.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)

SCOTT DETROW: The 57-foot high waters have flooded Bob Shank's home and the tavern he owns.

BOB SHANKS: Well, they're both underwater right now, but it wasn't near as bad as it was expected to be. We have about three feet in our living room right now and we only have a foot and a half in the tavern.

DETROW: Luzerne County commissioner Maryanne Petrella says people who live in evacuation zones need to stay out, even as the river begins to recede.

MARYANNE PETRELLA: People need to understand that we realize they're impatient. We realize they want to come back home. But they can't - they just can't. It's not safe yet.

DETROW: In Bloomsburg, the river is more than 30 feet above its banks, surpassing a record set in 1904. The flood water making its way down the Susquehanna is toxic. More than ten sewage treatment centers along its banks have failed, and that waste is now in the river, according to Governor Tom Corbett.

SIEGEL: It's going to come downstream. You know, in some respects a flood has - you know, the solution is a dilution. It will be spread out. But in talking with the Department of Welfare and the Department of Health, this isn't something you want to go play in.

DETROW: The water smells like diesel fuel in Marietta, because of all the home heating units in flooded basements. People across the region are being told to boil their tap water before drinking it. And in many communities, they need to be off the streets be eight or nine o'clock at night, because of curfews.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BARKING DOG)

DETROW: Do you have any idea when you'll be able to come back?

TYLER VROB: Us? No. Not at all. I don't know if we're even going to be able to come back.

DETROW: Really?

VROB: Yeah.

DETROW: How bad is the damage so far?

VROB: Our house was really old to begin with, so this flood definitely did not help whatsoever.

DETROW: For NPR News, I'm Scott Detrow, in Marietta, Pennsylvania. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.