Flash floods prompt rescues

Heavy rains triggered flash flooding in parts of central and eastern Pennsylvania on Monday, closing down a heavily travelled interstate and sending water into homes in the mountainous coal regions.

State highway and emergency management officials reported numerous closed roads in a wide swath of the state from Williamsport to the Philadelphia suburbs, and some motorists had to be rescued.

Hazel Coles said water rose so quickly at her home in Darby, outside Philadelphia, that she had to evacuate through a window. She said there was about three feet of water on her street, and some people had to be evacuated by boat. She said the Red Cross was helping displaced residents.

"It's just crazy," she said. "I thank God it wasn't worse."

The National Weather Service in State College said there were numerous reports of six inches of rain or more in Schuylkill and Columbia counties.

Water rescue teams from Lehigh and Northampton counties were dispatched to an area near Slatington after a rafting company reported that they could not account for nearly 150 rafters.

The Morning Call reported that emergency officials have talked to the company and they said they believe everyone is accounted for and on their way home.

Police in Bloomsburg set off a mandatory evacuation siren late Monday afternoon for a few hundred people in the west end of town after Fishing Creek came out of its banks and was rising rapidly.

Columbia County emergency official Dave Witchey said a fire hall in Berwick was accepting evacuees, and another shelter may be opened if necessary.

In the Benton area, three helicopters with a group run by the National Guard and the state Fish and Boat Commission performed about 10 rescues, including people plucked from the roofs of their homes, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

The agency also said that in Columbia County a helicopter team rescued nine people off of roofs, three of which were children.

High water in Port Carbon caused some evacuations and prompted firefighters to launch rescue boats and rafts. Parts of Pottsville were inundated, and three shelters were set up.

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