Photo courtesy of the LCFPA
Tropical Storm Lee, Aerial of West Pittston-2011
Know Your Flood Hazards
Borough of West Pittston
The Garden Village
West Pittston Floodplain Management
Ice accumulation on piers of the DL & W Susquehanna River Bridge in West Pittston in 2018
West Pittston Borough is located in the Susquehanna River valley, just downstream of the confluence of the Lackawanna River and the Susquehanna River. The community's proximity to the river threatens its small businesses, unique century homes and well maintained landscapes which enrich West Pittston's downtown and residential areas. The Borough has been severely impacted by six floods in the past fifty years. In 2011, Tropical Storm Lee caused historical flooding and impacted approximately 26 businesses and over 800 homes. West Pittston has taken action to educate residents about their flood risks to prevent flood damages and minimize future flooding. Keep reading to find out how to protect your home from flooding.
Tropical Storm Lee-Intersection of Wyoming Ave. and Exeter Ave.-2011
Photo courtesy of the West Pittston Historical Society
Know the Local Rules and Regulations
Top 10 Historic Crests on the Susquehanna River
(1) 42.66 ft on 09/09/2011 (6) 34.14 ft on 06/28/2006
(2) 40.91 ft on 06/24/1972 (7) 33.10 ft on 03/18/1865
(3) 35.06 ft on 09/27/1975 (8) 33.07 ft on 03/20/1936
(4) 34.96 ft on 09/19/2004 (9) 32.01 ft on 05/29/1946
(5) 34.45 ft on 01/20/1996 (10) 31.53 ft on 04/01/1940
CodeRED is an emergency notification service which allows borough officials to notify residents and businesses via telephone, cell phone, text message, email and social media regarding time-sensitive, general and emergency information. Only authorized officials have access to the CodeRED system.
Any message regarding the safety, property or welfare of the community will be disseminated using CodeRED. These include evacuation notices and other flood emergencies.
Register now by clicking here. For help registering, call (866) 939-0911.
Know your river level: Susquehanna River at the Wilkes-Barre Gauge
Protect Yourself! Know your evacuation route, click here for your evacuation map.
Create an evacuation plan. Here's how.
Stormwater Management Tip: For outdoor storage, use containers that do not rust or leak to eliminate exposure of materials to stormwater.
Only Rain Down the Drain- Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program
Floodplain Management Tip: Check with the Zoning office to see if a permit is needed for any improvement work you do on your property.
Know the substantial improvement rules- Floodplain Management Ordinance Amendment
Flooding in the Wyoming Valley
The Wyoming Valley is the main stem of the Susquehanna River in northeast Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River is one of the most flood prone waterways in the United States. Locally, since 1865 the river has exceeded the natural flood stage of 22 feet, seventy-seven (77) times or about once every 2 years.
In 1936, a spring thaw and bouts of heavy rain affected the Kingston area, damaging 1,600 homes. On Friday, March 20, the river crested again hitting the eighth highest record of 33.07 feet. The flooding impacted Kingston and Plymouth causing massive damage to homes and businesses. Nanticoke was inundated and West Pittston experienced damaging flood waters. The 1936 flood caused $212 million in damage state-wide and caused $9 million in damage with 3,800 homes and 15,000 residents affected in Wilkes-Barre and another 5,600 homes and 25,600 residents affected in other river-side towns such as West Pittston.
On June 23, 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes crested at 40.91 feet and over-topped the existing level of protection in the Wyoming Valley. The flooding and its aftermath was an absolute catastrophe for the area. The flood inundation area covered 48 square miles and included both the west and east side of the river. The flooding resulted in over $1 billion in damages (1980 dollars) and resulted in 25,000+ homes and apartments damaged, 80,000 citizens homeless, 30,000 citizens in evacuation centers, 5 major bridges destroyed or significantly damaged, 2,700+ commercial establishments damaged, 11,000 people out of work, over 1 million tons of debris and at least 1 death.
Most recently, in September 2011, Tropical Storm Lee produced heavy rainfall with totals exceeding 10-12 inches in two days which caused record flooding throughout the state. More than 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Luzerne County and nearly 3,000 unprotected properties were significantly inundated. The lowlands of Shickshinny and West Pittston experienced flooding that nearly reached the second floors of residential structures. In the Wyoming Valley, the river crested at 42.66 ft. Throughout the state, there was an estimated $2 billion dollars in damage, more than 16,000 homes and businesses were damaged, over 1,000 structures were destroyed and 7 people lost their lives.
Ice Jams - 1904 and 2018
West Pittston has previously experienced flooding due to ice jams during the winter months. Ice jams occur when temperatures drop below freezing and ice forms, the ice flows until it reaches a barrier and a blockage is created. Ice jams can lead to localized flooding in areas located behind ice blockages. When an ice jam forms, flood waters rise rapidly and flood forecasting becomes difficult.
On March 7, 1904, Susquehanna River waters rose several feet over a 30 minute period of time and within 48 hours the flood waters receded. As the ice jam broke free and flow resumed, huge ice chunks were deposited along the banks of the Susquehanna.
In late January 2018, moderate temperatures and rainfall caused the ice cover on the Susquehanna River to melt, the ice cover broke up and a blockage formed which raised the local river level to approximately 27 feet. In the early morning hours of Thursday, January 25, the ice jam broke and the surface ice began to move downstream. When the ice jam broke free, massive blocks of ice and tree debris were deposited along West Pittston riverbanks.
If you live in a special flood hazard area (SFHA), your property has flooded in the past. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your property. Learn how by contacting your local floodplain manager at (570)-655-7782. To find out if you are in the SFHA, click here.