WEST PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We may be in the midst of a dry spell, but despite that, flood protection efforts remain on the minds of people who live near the Susquehanna river.
West Pittston has been hard hit by flooding in recent years. Now efforts are underway to build a levee to protect the community.
The Susquehanna River has always been a picturesque scene, because of that, many residents have resisted efforts to build a levee on the river.
Despite the public’s desire to block the project, officials have decided to move forward with the plan, that is if the borough can fund it.
“The one thing always remained. It’s not if it happens again, it’s when. That’s what you have to live with being by the river. It’s going to happen again,” Chris Kosakowski of West Pittston explained.
Kosakowski knows all too well what the Susquehanna river can do. One day it can be peaceful, and the next day, it turns into a monster.
His home was flooded in 2011 and has had close calls several times since that time.
“It’s very similar living next to the ocean worrying about hurricanes and things like that, but you never know when it’s going to happen. Just a few years ago we were worried about flooding on Christmas day,” Kosakowski elaborated.
West Pittston officials are moving ahead with plans to build a levee along the river from the armory to the West Pittston armory. It would protect about 900 homes and businesses.
The price tag is around $50,000,000.
In recent weeks, Senator Bob Casey announced the borough would receive just over $560,000 for the project and is also seeking another $1.5 million dollars in federal funds for flood protection.
“We have to make sure we are doing everything possible on the preventative side to prevent serious damage. When you have a disaster and also in terms of rebuilding, all the work that has to get done to rebuild and provide safer conditions for our families and our communities,” Senator Bob Casey stated.
Antonio’s pizza was hard hit by the 2011 flood, those folks here are hopeful the levee will become a reality.
“My distinct memories open the door after not being here for a week and just smelling everything that was mine. I’ll never forget it, what it was like,” Francesca Carannante of Antonios Pizza recalled.
West Pittston is seeking American Recovery Plan funds through Luzerne County if all goes well.
Basically, if they can secure the funds, some $50 million, the levee could be built here within the next five years.
For more on this story, watch I-Team reporter Andy Mehalshick tonight at five pm.