WILKES-BARRE — Emergency crews responded to several incidents across Luzerne County Wednesday evening after a thunderstorm with torrential rains swept across the area.
A county 911 supervisor couldn’t provide the number of calls received or examples of specific situations, other than to say they were storm-related.
One of the calls was for a reported “water rescue” near the intersection of South Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and Lehigh Street at about 6:30 p.m.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Department Capt. Chris Buchanan said three cars stalled when they drove into pooled water at the intersection.
“It was just too much rain, too fast,” Buchanan said. “The first car went in and (the water) came up over the hood.”
The driver “was stuck in the vehicle briefly” because the water “shut down the electrical system of the car” and the driver couldn’t unlock the doors or open the windows, Buchanan said.
The driver, Raymond Pavlick, of Wilkes-Barre, said it was difficult to see the standing water because of the torrential rain and his Nissan sedan was in it before he knew it. “By the time I tried stopping, it just stalled out,” he said.
While Pavlick was dealing with the firefighters and tow truck driver on the scene, his mother, Cathy Pavlick, said her son told her the water “kept pushing (his car) down the street. It pushed him right into the curb.”
Pavlick said the water pooled so high and so quickly “definitely because the storm drains were blocked” by leaves and other debris. “As soon as (firefighters) cleared them, (the water) went down,” she said.
Wilkes-Barre resident Russ Carpenella, who was driving behind Pavlick, said the water came “almost up to my headlights. I was driving, it was flooded, I tried to make it through and it stalled out. A dude in a mud-bog (truck) pulled me out.”
Tom Fernandes, the good Samaritan from Wilkes-Barre with the mud-bog truck, said he was happy to help.
Buchanan said drivers who see pooled water on roadways should follow one rule: “Don’t drive through.”
He also said firefighters were responding to “alarm after alarm” after the thunderstorm set off fire alarms all through the city.
Reach Steve Mocarsky at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @TLSteveMocarsky.