Man killed as strong storms cause flooding across state
WILLIAMSPORT >> Strong storms hit pockets of western and central Pennsylvania early Friday, bringing up to 7 inches of rain, turning roads into rivers, damaging homes in communities as far as 150 miles apart and killing one person.
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the state’s National Guard to help in the recovery efforts after the storms left a path of destruction, downing power lines, destroying vehicles, damaging railroad beds and triggering mudslides.
The (Lock Haven) Express reported a man was killed Thursday night in Clinton County when a tree crashed down on his home.
Winds there had reached up to 100 mph, said National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Evanego.
Flash floods swept away at least two homes in Sullivan County, west of Scranton, according to WNEPTV . Hundreds more were damaged in Centre County, home to Penn State’s main campus.
“It’s been quite a day,” said Centre County Commissioner Steven Dershem.
The storm brought some of the worst damage the Bald Eagle Valley of central Pennsylvania has seen since Hurricane Ivan brought downpours to the area in 2004, Dershem said. As of Friday morning, about 100 people were displaced, including about three dozen residents from a personal care home, he said.
John D. Yingling, director of Lycoming County’s department of public safety, had launched its nine boat teams to help residents and survey the damage with area bridge inspections and road assessments.
Lycoming County was among the hardest hit, and storms there wiped out the Wallis Run Road bridge across the Loyalsock Creek in Mountoursville, said PEMA spokeswoman Ruth Miller.
The flooding also caused a Sunoco Logistics gasoline pipeline to rupture, spilling an estimated 54,600 gallons into a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek and threatening the water supply of several thousand customers.
Pennsylvania American Water said its treatment plant along the Susquehanna River in Milton — downstream of the spill — might be impacted, and asked customers to conserve water in case the plant had to be shut down. Residents would be served by a second, unaffected treatment plant if the Milton plant had to be taken offline, the company said.
“We’ve been monitoring, testing the source water all day. We haven’t seen an impact yet,” but the gasoline plume could reach the plant overnight, said company spokeswoman Susan Turcmanovich.
Sunoco Logistics said it detected a drop in pressure around 3 a.m. Friday and shut down the pipeline. The company said crews were using skimmers to remove gasoline from impacted waterways — including Wallace Run and Loyalsock Creek — and erecting containment booms downstream.
The pipeline remains underwater and the direct source of the leak is still under investigation, Sunoco Logistics spokesman Jeff Shields said.
The damage led county commissioners to call on the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for assistance.
The state activated part of its transportation department to monitor and inspect state roadways and sent water rescue teams.
A man stands at the end of Lower Bodines Road, north of Trout Run, Pa., as it is closed by flood waters Friday. The floating item at the far right is a hot tub. Freak storms packing up to 100 mph winds hit Pennsylvania early Friday, sending floodwaters into hundreds of homes and causing a pipeline rupture that dumped more than 50,000 gallons of gasoline into a stream, threatening drinking water supplies.