Ice jam breaks, Susquehanna River recedes

By Ed Lewis -

WILKES-BARRE — The Susquehanna River has begun to recede after an ice jam that formed near the Eighth Street Bridge flooding low lying areas in West Pittston, Exeter and Duryea broke Thursday morning, according to Luzerne County Emergency Management.

“During the early morning hours, the ice jam broke free from the Exeter and West Pittston areas,” according to a statement from EMA. “Large ice fields cleared most of the bridges down river of West Pittston with no issues reported. Currently, the water is flowing along at a steady pace; gradually moving the ice downstream with large fields reported from South Wilkes-Barre down past West Nanticoke.

“There are no reports of flooding at this time but as we have stated, ice jams are unpredictable. We are continuing to monitor the river level, currently at 20 feet in Wilkes-Barre, and will notify those municipalities along the river of any changes or issues that may occur.”

The river measured at the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Wilkes-Barre recorded a level of 17.79 feet at 7:15 a.m., down nearly 10 feet. At 3:15 a.m., the river reached 27.4 feet, according to the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center.

The ice jam caused flooding of Susquehanna Avenue and side streets in West Pittston, closing the Water Street and Fort Jenkins bridges, on Wednesday.

Water Street Bridge remains closed but the Fort Jenkins Bridge reopened Thursday morning.

Eighth Street Bridge was never closed.

A voluntary evacuation of low lying areas of West Pittston turned into a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night due to a rapid rise of the river.

The Wyoming Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross set up a shelter at Wyoming Area High School.

Under high water conditions without ice, Susquehanna Avenue begins to flood when the river reaches 28 to 29 feet.

By Ed Lewis