Flooding forces evacuations in Northeast

Flooding in the northeastern United States prompted the evacuation of thousands of people on Thursday, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee moved through the region.

CNN reports that the flooding in some areas was approaching near-historic levels, and had left three people dead so far.

Pennsylvania was hit hard. In Luzerne County, in the northeastern part of the state, 100,000 to 125,000 people were ordered to leave their homes by 4 p.m. Thursday as the Susquehanna River rose above flood stage, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Stephen Bekanich.

"We're getting more and more alarmed as the day progresses," Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla said.

A 71-year-old man died Wednesday night in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, when the walls of his basement caved in while he was bailing out water. Another person drowned early Thursday near Brickerville. A third person was killed Thursday afternoon after their vehicle was stranded by high water. While outside their vehicle, the person was hit by a second vehicle.

As much as a foot of rain was recorded outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Reuters reports. 65,000 people were evacuated from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania early on Thursday and another 35,000 were evacuated from surrounding counties.

"The combination of previous record rainfall, current tropical downpours from Lee, urban development and an already fragile watershed will lead to historic flooding in part of the Northeast this week," Accuweather.com forecaster Evan Myers told Reuters.

Pennsylvania state police said that flooding, mudslides and rock slides had closed some of the area's busiest highways. Rail service has also been interrupted in several states.

The rising Susquehanna and Chenango rivers also triggered evacuations in upstate New York, where numerous counties declared states of emergency.

"This is a major flooding situation," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference, according to CNN. "This is nothing to trifle with."

And according to CNN, the rain will keep coming:

Because the system is slow-moving, "I'm afraid it's going to get worse before it gets better," CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said.

Several rounds of heavy rain are in store for much of the region the next couple of days, with an additional 2 to 6 inches forecast -- and in isolated cases as much as 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service. But as of Thursday morning, some areas had already received nearly that much, Marciano said.