Many communities in the Southern Tier, including Owego and Binghamton, were devastated Sept. 8 by severe flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee.
The remnants of the tropical storm produced more than 10 inches of rain in some areas, many of which already were saturated by the rains Tropical Storm Irene brought in late August. Swollen with the rains from Tropical Storm Lee, the Susquehanna River reached flood stage in Binghamton early Sept. 7 and continued to rise throughout the next two days, flooding Owego, Binghamton and other communities. Several other Southern Tier streams, creeks and tributaries also flooded.
President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in 15 New York counties, including Tioga and Chemung, and 42 Pennsylvania counties, making these counties eligible for emergency-response aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"With the recent heavy rains and severe flash flooding, we are on the verge of a crisis and federal assistance is urgently needed to help protect New Yorkers," New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a Sept. 8 statement. "I have directed state resources to areas that are currently experiencing widespread flooding to assist with emergency procedures."
Cuomo deployed state emergency resources, including more than 350 New York National Guard troops, 44 National Guard vehicles and several National Guard helicopters, to the hardest-hit areas. He also deployed several swift-water rescue boats and crews to help with evacuations and rescues.
On Sept. 9 Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets Inc. donated to the relief effort two tractor-trailer loads full of such nonperishable food items as canned tuna fish, peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables, soups, cereal, and plastic cups, plates and utensils. One load was sent to Food Bank of the Southern Tier, an Elmira-based Catholic Charities agency that serves 185 hunger-relief outlets across Chemung, Steuben, Tioga, Schuyler, Tompkins and Broome counties. The other load was sent to the Northeast Regional Weinberg Food Bank in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which also was ravaged by the flooding.
Both food banks are working closely with local chapters of the American Red Cross to supply food to the thousands of people in shelters as well as other people in need, according to a Sept. 9 press release from Wegmans, which operates stores in Wilkes-Barre and Johnson City, N.Y. The store in Johnson City closed the evening of Sept. 7, when water flooded its parking lot and loading docks, but hopefully will reopen Sept. 10, according to the release. The Wilkes-Barre store has remained open, and both stores have donated food and water to emergency responders, including the National Guard.
The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation also donated $150,000 to the American Red Cross Southern Tier Chapter and another $150,000 to the American Red Cross Wyoming Valley Chapter.