Digital Exclusive: Schuylkill County officials keeping an eye on the weather

Digital Exclusive

GILBERTON, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Hurricane Isaias is expected to make landfall Monday. It’s expected to move up the coast and drop heavy rain on northeastern Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Heavy rain threatens many areas in our region with flooding, but one place in particular has had more than its share this year.

Gilberton was heavily flooded in early June after just three inches of rain. Officials say that flooding was exacerbated by nearby construction, causing the creek to become backed up and overflow into the borough. John Matz, the Schuylkill County Emergency Management Coordinator, says the upcoming heavy rains are of concern to the borough.

“The forecast we’re looking at right now call for about three inches give or take a little bit and that really is going to depend on how the storm tracks over the next 24 hours or so,” Matz said.

He says he has been coordinating with the municipalities.

“Sort of give em a heads up. We will monitor the situation going into tonight. We’ll do that in cooperation with the 911 staff,” Matz said.

Frank Jackowiak, the Emergency Coordinator for Gilberton, says he believes the borough will withstand the heavy rains. While the borough’s two electrical pumps have not been working since June’s flooding, they borrowed three other pumps from Goodwin.

“These should in town hold what we have. ‘Cause we’ve had had three inches of rain since then with no problems,” Jackowiak said.

If flooded, the plan is to turn all those pumps back on. Water coming from areas upstream can put a strain on the nearby construction pipes, but he hopes a trench that was dug in will be able to get rid of excess water. But he says residents worry every time there is rain.

“Well to be honest you’re never going to get rid of it. Since we sit lower than the creek, without the pumps behind us operational, that’s always going to be a problem,” Jackowiak said.

The borough is just getting back on its feet after June’s flooding and Jackowiak says he doesn’t think the borough can physically handle an other flood.

“Physically it’s a stress. You can only put up with so much,” Jackowiak said.

To get rid of the fear of flooding forever, Jackowiak says new pumps would need to be put place and the bridge construction project needs to finish.

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