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PA begins flood cleanup

Eight Pennsylvania counties received federal disaster declarations.

BY HEATHER MOYER | NEW HOPE, Pa. | July 3, 2006

Eight Pennsylvania counties received federal disaster declarations Sunday after last week's heavy rains and flooding.

Bradford, Bucks, Columbia, Luzerne, Northampton, Northumberland, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties all received public assistance declarations due to the flooding. Pennsylvania's governor had requested declarations for 34 affected counties.

Parts of Pennsylvania received 11 inches of rain in six days. Residents all along the Susquehanna, Delaware, Schuykill and Lehigh rivers are coping with what the swollen rivers left behind.

"This storm system devastated a large portion of the commonwealth," said Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in a news release.

Five deaths are blamed on flooding in the state.

Residents are removing soggy belongings from flooded homes and businesses, with some areas now cleaning up after the third flood in two years.

Yardley and New Hope along the Delaware River, and then Bloomsburg along the Susquehanna River, look to be the hardest hit communities, said a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).

Cities along the Delaware River like Easton, New Hope and Yardley were last flooded in the spring of 2005.

"Damage assessments will begin Sunday," said Christopher Manlove, a PEMA spokesperson. "The concentration now is on returning people to their homes."

Rivers and streams remain at flood stage in many areas, including Wilkes-Barre and all down the state's eastern border with New Jersey.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is inspecting dams across the state and advising residents to test contaminated well water. The agency is also monitoring the debris cleanup and telling residents how to carefully handle the flooded property.

"Getting flood-damaged belongings cleaned up and hauled away as quickly as possible is vital to public health and the environment and essential to helping communties return to normal," said Kathleen A. McGinty, the state's Environmental Protection Secretary.

Many roads and highways remain closed due to high water, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The rivers have already crested in most areas, but flood warnings remain in effect for eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River.

Counties being considered for a federal disaster declaration are Adams, Armstrong, Berks, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Indiana, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, Wyoming and York.

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