Ideas on fighting flooding

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EXETER, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s been almost a decade since a borough in Luzerne County took on more than $100 million dollars in damage, from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee. West Pittston is still trying to put together a plan to make sure they never see that kind of problem again.

Flooding, an issue back in 2011 in West Pittston, was revisited Wednesday night with a feasibility study on how to mitigate that issue. Four months after public input on controlling flood damage, municipal officials and design leaders met again at Wyoming Area High School to present their proposals to fight flooding.

“They have a plan. They have a plan as to how much it’s going to cost, what it will look like and what else has to be done about it,” West Pittston Council president Ellen Quinn said.

Engineers have been doing a detailed study of what measures can be taken and what the cost/benefit analysis would be for the borough and partnering agencies.

“The lead idea is actually a levee system and a flood wall system that could be integrated into the community in the way we show on the concept plans,” lead design/study engineer Tom Lawson said.

The early estimate for the cost? More than $49 million.

“We will be sitting down to see how we will go about raising those funds. Federal money, state money, and county money,” Quinn said.

Borough and private funds will certainly plan a large role, but a similar project in Columbia County does lend a reliable frame of reference for flood management. That project has been funded primarily through grants. While it’s not as immediate as the community would like, the comparable time frame is quick for anything garnering national attention.

“We have similar experience down in Bloomsburg right now and our estimate is about four years between design and completing construction,” Lawson said.

Public comment during the meeting was generally positive but the focus now shifts to finalize these plans and find those sources of funding.

There are still municipal measures for complete plan approvals but those involved are confident they’ll be able to come to a conclusion and get into the major design phase soon.

The full study is expected to be released through West Pittston Borough in the coming weeks.

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