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February 3, 2014

Freeze-thaw creates ice jam, flood concern

NEW CASTLE — Emergency officials are advising residents of low-lying creek areas to prepare for potential flooding and ice jams as ice melts.

Of particular concern is the Neshannock Creek, which historically rises when ice jams form in the stream after a deep freeze, then a thaw.

Local firefighters have not noticed any problems so far, but this weekend into next week could be a concern, they said.

David Congini, Neshannock Township emergency management coordinator, said areas that typically flood during ice jams and high creek water are Cottage Grove in Wilmington Township, Mayville in Wilmington Township and hunting/fishing camp areas along Lakewood-Neshannock Falls Road.

“People need to keep an eye on the water and the news forecast and if there are signs of potential flooding, pack up and move out until it recedes, and don’t wait it out,” he said.

When it’s too late, rescue crews have to go in with boats and get the people and their pets, he explained, and the rescuers and the people are put in a dangerous situation.

He warned that people should not drive through localized flooding and standing water.

“A lot of people don’t realize how deep it can be or if the road is washed out with it,” he said.

Neshannock Fire Chief John DiCola Jr. said if temperatures rise to 50 degrees this weekend, some of the ice on the streams could break loose.

“It could get nasty first of the week. That’s been a concern all along, even in the Pittsburgh area.”

Hickory Township Fire Chief David White, who in the past has rescued people from Lakewood-Neshannock Falls Road, said he is monitoring the situation.

“Everything is OK right now, but everyone’s keeping an eye on it.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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