June 28, 2006

Rains flood Pennsylvania, people stranded on roofs

By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched a
helicopter to rescue up to 70 people stranded on rooftops
Wednesday in northeastern Pennsylvania as days of torrential
rain caused widespread flooding across the state.

Rain in the Delaware Valley of southeastern Pennsylvania
fell at a pace of between 1.5 and 3 inches during one four-hour
period overnight, capping between 5 and 7 inches that has
deluged the region since Friday.

With extensive disruption to roads and businesses in most
of central and eastern Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell declared a
disaster emergency for 46 of the state's 67 counties.

In the northeastern city of Wilkes-Barre, the Coast Guard
responded to calls that 50 to 70 people were stranded on
rooftops after the Susquehanna River burst its banks. U.S.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Larry Chambers said one helicopter
and two crews were sent to rescue them.

The heavy rain has deluged much of the northeastern United
States, including Washington, where as much as 7 inches of rain
fell between Sunday and Monday, causing some government
buildings to close and keeping workers out of their offices.

In Fort Washington, a northern suburb of Philadelphia, rail
commuters were stranded by flooding in an industrial park.

Rivers and creeks were expected to continue to rise after
the heavy overnight rain. The Susquehanna River at Bradford,
Pennsylvania, was expected to crest at 28 feet on Wednesday
evening, 2 feet above flood stage.

In Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River is expected to crest
this evening at 5 feet above flood stage.

The American Red Cross has opened at least 11 shelters in
northeastern Philadelphia and is providing food and shelter to
at least 100 people.