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Flash flooding strikes PA town

BY PJ HELLER | WILKES-BARRE, PA | May 30, 2002


"This is the worst I've seen it in my life"

—Bear Creek Village Mayor Walter Mitchell


Residents in the Bear Creek

Township area today continued the arduous task of cleaning up their homes and businesses following major flooding caused by torrential rains.

The township has been declared a disaster area by Luzerne County, the

first step in making it eligible for federal relief funds. Only a

handful of residents were reported to have flood insurance.

Up to 5 inches of rain fell during a four-hour period Tuesday

afternoon on already saturated ground, sending water cascading over

the Bear Creek Dam. The flood badly damaged a bridge spanning state

Route 115, washed out several sections of that road as well as

secondary roads and damaged an undetermined number of homes and

businesses.

No injuries were reported.

Some of the roads remained closed Wednesday but were expected to be

reopened today by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

About 2,500 people live in Bear Creek, located about 15 miles south

of Wilkes-Barre. Some of the residents had to be rescued from the

roofs of their homes when the floodwaters raged through the

community. Nearly two dozen residents at the Bear Creek Health Care

Center had to be evacuated and were taken to hospitals in

Wilkes-Barre. The Pennsylvania National Guard dispatched a helicopter

from the Johnstown area to provide assistance.

No emergency shelters were required to house residents, according to

the American Red Cross.

Classes were scheduled to resume today at Bear Creek Elementary School.

As cleanup efforts continued , the National Weather Service forecast

more rain on Friday.

Walter Mitchell, mayor of Bear Creek Village, recalled that the area

suffered a flood in 1994 that caused up to $100,000 in damages.

"This is much worse than that was," Mitchell said. "This is the worst I've seen it in my life."


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