Steps to provide flood protection begin


WEST PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Borough leaders in part of Luzerne County are officially taking the first steps when it comes to providing flood protection in their community. A public meeting was held Wednesday night to lay out the plans and ideas.

Pittston Borough managers kicked off their plan for a feasibility study for a non-federal flood damage reduction project. The community says this should have been in the works for nearly a decade.

“I think this is a very positive time for West Pittston. I look at it almost as an opportunity for a new beginning,” council president Ellen Quinn said.

After years of outcry from residents in West Pittston, leaders are finally stepping up to the plate.

“In 2001, about a third of this community, almost a thousand properties, suffered flooding. Close to a million dollars in damage,” flood study project manager Jim Brozena said.

This comes after the unforgettable flood in September 2011. The Susquehanna River continuously overflowed, leaving homeowners devastated.

“It was terrible. I had five feet of water on my first floor. I lost every single thing. The walls had to be taken out, the floors had to be taken out. My first floor ended up being just one big empty space,” Margaret Saporito said.

Saporito has lived in West Pittston for at least 80 years. She says building a levee is crucial to the area.

“Very important. I don’t know if I’ll see dykes in my lifetime, but I certainly hope so,” Saporito said.

Leaders say now is the perfect time to start working to put it in place.

“In order to maintain the viability of this community, we need to do something,” Brozena said.

The flood study team introduced their ideas to an audience of nearly 150 people, discussing plans such as how long the study will last and what the levee will look like.

“I have never been as hopeful as I am tonight or as positive about finally getting flood protection for West Pittston,” Quinn said.

However, some community members remain skeptical and are expressing their concerns.

“My concern is Duryea has been approved for dykes. If they get dykes, I think West Pittston will be an inbounding station, that’s my opinion,” Claire Humphrey said.

Project leaders say the study will last six months which will then give a blueprint on how to move forward. The tricky part however will be finding money to pay for it.

Another public meeting is projected to be held in the fall with a new draft of the study.

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