Ivan's wrath still unfolding

Ivan's remnants may be out to sea, but flooding was still imminent on Monday afternoon in northeast Maryland, and Pennsylvania was looking at what one emergency management official described as "massive flooding."

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | September 20, 2004


Ivan's remnants may be out to sea, but flooding was still imminent on Monday afternoon in Maryland, and Pennsylvania was looking at what one emergency management official described as "massive flooding."

Other areas in the Mid-Atlantic were mopping up, too.

Communities along the Susquehanna River were the biggest concern on Monday, said state emergency management officials from both Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Northeastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey were soaked with 5 to 8 inches of rain in less than 24 hours Saturday, and that water rushed downstream Sunday, forecasters said.

The Susquehanna level was among its five highest since record-keeping began in the 19th century, according to the National Weather Service.

In Maryland's Cecil County, the town of Port Deposit "is going to get hit" by floodwater, said Quentin Banks, spokesperson for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. Emergency officials in that town were slowly opening floodgates on the Conowingo Dam to relieve pressure, said Banks.

About 200 of the town's 700 people were urged to evacuate.

Port Deposit is in northeastern Maryland.

The last time the dam's floodgates were opened was in 1996, when more than two feet of snow blanketed the area, and then temperatures quickly rose into the 50s. "Ice broke on the Susquehanna," remembered Banks.

Emergency crews were assessing damages in Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon, said Joan Nissley, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Town after town along the Susquehanna reported flood damage. "We have massive flooding in so many areas," said Nissley.

Metropolitan damages were concentrated in Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg, said Nissley. More than 1,200 roads were closed throughout the state on Monday afternoon. "Flooding is widespread," she said, but there was not yet an estimate of the number of homes damaged, or the severity of the residential damage.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated in Harrisburg over the weekend. Statewide, in Pennsylvania, more than 14,000 evacuated at the peak of flooding.

The Ohio River inundated parts of towns in West Virginia and Ohio.

In Wheeling, W.Va., the Ohio River crested Sunday 9 feet above flood stage, covering the city's mid-river Wheeling Island, which holds some residential neighborhoods. Statewide, about 290 homes and at least 31 businesses were destroyed.

Some 1,700 people were out of their homes Sunday in eastern Ohio, and the Ohio River crested at 9 feet above flood stage in the southeastern city of Marietta. About 200 people there were evacuated.

Trenton, N.J., also reported flood damage. The Delaware River crested around 23 1/2 feet there Sunday night, well above the flood stage of 20 feet.

President Bush declared a disaster area Sunday for at least 19 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and several counties in Ohio were also declared.


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