Dealing with Flood Concerns in the Future

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(WBRE/WYOU-TV)   A Luzerne County community hard hit by flooding in recent years heard from Pennsylvania emergency management officials today about ways to reduce if not prevent future flooding but there is a catch.

     Governor Wolf is once again trying to establish a natural gas severance tax.

     It would fund what he’s calling “Restore Pennsylvania”.

     But it’s a tough sell for many lawmakers in Harrisburg.

The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick has the story.

  

 These are scenes that still haunt residents of West Pittston flooding inundating their neighborhoods.  Many here have never recovered from the flooding of 2011. Today, officials from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency came to the banks of the river to lobby for support of “Restore Pennsylvania”.

  “There’s always a need more than there is funding,” Said Steve Bekanich, PEMA Deputy Director of Preparedness.

 And that would change with money from a natural gas severance tax.

Governor Wolf says it would raise $4.5 billion dollars for all kinds of infrastructure improvements. Including flood protection and recovery.

  “One of our biggest issues, when we run out of ways to help people it is extremely difficult and is probably one of the worst things we have to do, is say to someone we can’t help you,” Said Bekanich.

 Governor Wolf has proposed the severance tax before but it failed in the Republican-controlled legislature. So why do Democrats think it will succeed this time around?

  “Clearly there’s opposition mainly in the house of representatives. We got a severance tax out of the senate republicans and democrats working together and it done in the Senate. We have to get it out of the house” said Senator John Yudichak.

 “We are not sure what we can do. All the mud!”

That was West Pittston resident John Kearns back in 2011 as he cleaned up his flood-damaged home. He was here today. To ask questions. Of the powers that be..

  “I think the most important thing is mitigation to prevent as much flood damaged as possible from the flood that is coming. Right now only recourse is to have houses torn down.”

Eyewitness News spoke to State Representative Aaron Kaufer from Luzerne County. He said before he could support “Restore Pennsylvania”.. He wants guarantees that the money will benefit residents in the 120th district. Especially those who are dealing with flooding.


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