Flooding has area on guard

This region — and much of Pennsylvania — is living a wild ride of reality and uncertainty emanating from the persistent water-logged weather conditions that continue to wreak hardship for many while thrusting fear into the lives of many others.

Tuesday’s front-page Mirror headline “Rising waters swamp region” was an accurate depiction of what Blair and surrounding counties have experienced in recent days. For some people, it has brought back troubling memories of 1972, when Tropical Storm Agnes exacted horrific damage in central and eastern Pennsyl­vania — in places such as Harris­burg and Wilkes-Barre — but didn’t spare Blair County.

While the damage in Blair was significant, there nevertheless was concern here regarding potential catastrophic consequences. Those old enough to remember Agnes’ persistent rain might recall the worry about the possibility of a reservoir failure.

Likewise, the flooding in the Williamsburg and Tyrone areas during Agnes remains vivid in the recollections of people who were living in those parts of the county at that time.

As for Altoona, workers who ventured into the downtown via Union Avenue experienced inconvenience in the days afterward as a result of the roadway having been eroded by the normally docile Mill Run, which had been turned into a raging torrent.

“When is the rain going to stop?” was a question many people were asking in 1972, just as they currently are asking, having experienced a spring and summer for which the word “wet” seems like a terrible understatement.

As an article in last Saturday’s Mirror reported, the Altoona area already has exceeded its yearly rainfall average of 42.43 inches, and the skies apparently are nowhere near halting their watery assault on this area.

With the powerful Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas, this potentially devastating weather event that might end up being dubbed a “super-hurricane” could pose problems for this part of Pennsylvania, just like Agnes before it.

At this point, there’s concern about Florence stalling once it leaves the Atlantic Ocean, but beyond that a big question mark remains about what will happen — important for this region: Will Florence-related rains and winds target Blair and its environs and, if so, how much?

Area residents should pay close attention to developments related to the storm and ponder if and how the storm might impact them and those living near them.

During the winter, when heavy snowfalls or “deep freeze” temperatures sometimes occur, people are reminded to look out for one another, especially for the frail or elderly who have difficulty caring for themselves or meeting their needs, even during pleasant weather conditions.

Considering the weather uncertainties that lie ahead, such individuals already should be pondering ways they could help, if help becomes necessary, including, of course, cleanup help.

It’s safe to say that this part of Pennsylvania won’t experience the kind of challenges that probably lie ahead for the Carolinas, Virginia and probably Maryland. Nevertheless, Florence currently is packing the power to cause damage here beyond what the rains have caused in recent days.

Therefore, be watchful and prepared — and, if you’re so inclined, offer a prayer on behalf of those facing the prospect of great loss.


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