Susquehanna River Ice Jam Response
In January 2018, the bitter cold weather facilitated the creation of an ice jam atop the surface of the Susquehanna River in the Wyoming Valley. For a period of a few weeks the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency (LCEMA), local emergency officials and Authority staff continued to monitor the situation. In late January, moderate temperatures and rainfall caused the ice cover on the river to begin to break up and raise the local river level to above 20 feet. With the raising of the river level, all 13 pump stations in the flood protection system were activated to address any possible interior flooding issues behind the levee. LCEMA's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated and was manned by emergency personnel 24/7 until the flood threat was resolved. In the early morning hours of Thursday, January 25, the ice jam broke and the surface ice began to move downstream.
With the breaking up of the ice jam in the Wyoming Valley, large blocks of ice and tree debris have been deposited along the levee riverside toe throughout the length of the system. Due to the massive amount of ice along the levee and floodwall shoreline, staff is taking advantage of Mother Nature and allowing the ice to melt. The Authority will later schedule the removal of debris when the ground firms up and can support the weight of equipment. However, the Hanover Township boat launch, which is located at the end of Delaney Street and is used by the Township emergency responders to launch boat rescue missions, needed to be addressed in support of public safety. The boat launch access road straddles the Hanover levee and parallels the levee tow on the riverside of the levee. Authority staff removed the massive ice blocks and cleared a path to allow emergency responders to access the boat launch area.