Pennsylvania Officials Consider Lifting Evacuation Order as Flood-Swollen River Recedes

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Emergency management officials in Pennsylvania on Saturday were considering lifting an evacuation order that affected some 100,000 people after days of rain and flooding in the area submerged roadways and left at least six dead, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reported.

Flooding affected communities from New York to Virginia, with much of the damage along the Susquehanna River, bloated first by Tropical Storm Irene and then soon after by Tropical Storm Lee. More than 12 inches of rain have been dumped in parts of New York and Pennsylvania since Monday.

Officials in Luzerne County, Pa., said Saturday that the Susquehanna's water levels were receding and they were considering allowing some residents to go back to their homes.

"We're starting to move in reverse at this point," the paper quoted Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority executive director Jim Brozena as saying. "We're starting to prep things so we can bring people back."

As of 6:30am ET Saturday, the Susquehanna River had receded to a level of 33.02 feet. Brozena said a level below 30 feet -- which could be reached Saturday afternoon -- would make it safe for some of the 100,000 displaced residents to return to their homes.

The river crested Friday at a record-setting 42.66 feet, about four feet higher than the National Weather Service originally estimated, Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said.

Leighton urged residents to heed evacuation orders Friday after President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for New York and Pennsylvania overnight.

Three people in Pennsylvania died in flooding-related incidents, including an eight-year-old boy in Lancaster County who was swept into a storm drain, said East Cocalico police, according to the Intelligencer Journal.

Two people died in Virginia after being swept away by flood waters, The Washington Post reported. A 12-year-old boy was swept away by flooding from a creek in Fairfax County and a 67-year-old man died in a car when it was overwhelmed by rushing water from the Potomac River.

In Maryland, a 49-year-old man died after drowning near his home in Pasadena, near the Chesapeake Bay, the Post reported.

Elsewhere, the Delaware River in Trenton, N.J., overflowed its banks Thursday, flooding several city neighborhoods and prompting the closure of schools, The Star-Ledger reported.