GILBERTON, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Heavy rains caused flooding in Gilberton Thursday and as of Friday afternoon, the waters have continued to rise forcing the overnight evacuation of dozens residents.
Elected officials from the mayor to state legislators who know this area are trying to get a handle on this flooding. Speculation as to why it’s so much worse than a similar incident almost two decades ago.
“We’ve seen this before but this one seems to be especially bad,” said Sen. Dave Argall, (R) 29th District.
In 2006, flood waters filled the streets of Gilberton after 17-inches of rain in a single storm. Here in 2020, three inches and no concrete answers as to why.
“There’s a big PennDot project going on. they think that may have been a contributing variable. there might be some mining issues involved so there’s going to be a lot of people working on this,” said Argall.
Whatever the cause, tireless work continues to try and dry out the borough.
“What seems to be filling up the town is the fact that the water has nowhere to go. the first thing we have to do is bring the creek level down. by bringing the reek level down we can then pump the water from the borough into the creek,” said Rep. Neal Goodman, (D), 123rd District.
State Senator Dave Argall says this is a big issue that is crippling this small town.
“It’s one part a mining issue. You can understand the railroad is involved. PennDot is involved.there’s going to need to be some serious coordination. It’s not a wealthy town. They’re going to need help and there’s more than 40 people impacted,” said Argall.
Mayor Marylou Hannon knows the history here and the unfortunate uphill battle ahead.
“I’m hopeful for tomorrow to get the water levels down. but i know, dealing with it back in 2006, it took a few days to get the levels that people are able to go in and see the damage in their homes,” said Hannon.
The community of Gilberton remains at a standstill again Friday night.
The reason-flooding- that has forced dozens of people from their homes.
“Oh yeah. We had a deep one before, not too long ago. But you didn’t have to evacuate,” said Ada Jackowika of Gilberton.
“I was mayor back then in 2006. We had 17 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. This time in just a few hours of rain in a few hour, overnight. Get up in the morning and it’s been going ever since,” said Mayor Marylou Hannon.
This time around? Families evacuated. No injuries reported. Animals rescued from homes taking on more and more water.
“It was an eighth of an inch of water in my first floor but somebody said that it’s higher now,” said Jackowika.
Pumps were brought in from New Jersey and Philadelphia. Emergency crews are doing their part to pull Gilberton out of the water.
Still no explanation in sight as to why this is so much worse this time around.
“Back in 2006 we were able to control it. Right now we just can’t get a handle on it,” said Mayor Marylou Hannon.
“Obviously this water is coming from somewhere. The question is where and that’s something we’re trying to tackle right now,” said Rep. Neal Goodman, (D) 123rd District.
As the water levels lower in neighboring Mahanoy Creek, they continue to climb in Gilberton.