Stretches of the swollen Susquehanna River in New York and Pennsylvania were receding Friday morning after days of rainfall from what had been Tropical Storm Lee flooded communities.

 

President Barack Obama declared states of emergency in Pennsylvania and New York early Friday, clearing the way for federal aid.

 

Nearly 100,000 people were forced from their homes, and at least 11 deaths have been blamed on Lee and its remnants.

 

The damage was concentrated along the Susquehanna in Wilkes-Barre and dozens of miles up the river in Binghamton, New York, as well as other communities along the river. The National Weather Service said the Susquehanna crested above 38 feet (12 metres) Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre — below the top of the levee system protecting residents in northeastern Pennsylvania.

 

The flood waters that inundated the city of Binghamton and surrounding communities were receding Friday morning, but there was no indication yet when some of the 20,000 evacuees could expect to return to their homes.

 

The mayor of Binghamton said the flooding was the worst in more than 60 years.

Some 75,000 residents of Wilkes-Barre and neighbouring communities left their homes on Thursday under a mandatory evacuation order.

The flooding was fed by drenching rains from Tropical Storm Lee that continued for days, and followed a little more than a week the dousing that Hurricane Irene gave the East Coast.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on Lee and its aftermath: four in Pennsylvania; two in Virginia; one in Maryland; and four others killed when it came ashore on the Gulf Coast last week.