Continued rainfall, lurking Hurricane Florence should have 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.

Over the past few days, readers of our newspaper have seen several photos of flooded areas — from Lewistown’s Rec Park and Victory Park to the boat launch along U.S. 22/322 in the Narrows. For some people, it has brought back troubling memories of 1972, when Tropical Storm Agnes exacted horrific damage in central and eastern Pennsylvania, including right here in our region.

While the damage in Mifflin County this time around was fairly limited, there remains concern — especially with the Army Corps of Engineers having to open the floodgates of the Raystown Dam to control the level of Lake Raystown behind it and be ready for the next storm, thereby putting more water into the Juniata River — over just how much the normally gently-flowing Juniata can hold. Those old enough to remember Agnes’ persistent rain might recall the worry about the possibility of a reservoir failure.

“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.

With the powerful Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas, this potentially devastating weather event that might end up being one of the most drenching storms in America’s history 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 the Juniata Valley 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 Georgia. 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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