WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Anyone who’s lived through flooding never forgets the devastation and anguish that come with it.
Sparing hundreds of local residents that pain is why nearly two dozen city workers gathered Wednesday. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us what was done to keep rising water from devastating neighborhoods.
The riveting sound on the Waller Street bridge is something you normally wouldn’t hear on a sunny day. But it is the sound you’d hear when flooding fears hit this south Wilkes-Barre neighborhood. Nearly two dozen city firefighters and DPW workers practiced installing detachable flood gates along Solomon Creek.
Crews can swing the new and improved flood gates into place and assemble them quickly but there’s still a learning curve according to Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney.
“There’s a lot of components in the upgrade of these flood gates here. New bolts. New devices attached to these. So we had to look and make sure that everything is working right and that we have all the right tools to do it,” Delaney said.
Tools like wrenches, drills and screwdrivers are needed. Heavy machinery? Not so much. Bent bars on some of the panels are the result of when forklifts were needed to get protective panels into place.
But now that they’ve been retrofitted with fasteners, sliding them is essentially a two-man job. When time is of the essence, ease of assembly is imperative in densely populated neighborhoods along the creek.
Waller Street resident Andy Reno lives right next to Solomon Creek. He said, “If the water ever does come up over the roadway, the flood gates will definitely protect the residents in this area.”
His 87-year-old neighbor Richard Williams has lived on the street for more than a half-century. He said, “It feels quite safe compared to other years, you know. Much safer. I think it will be all right.”
Giving residents and those who protect them some peace of mind. Chief Delaney said, “Very fortunate we’ve had this upgrade and we’re going to sleep a lot better at night knowing we can protect the residents down here a lot better.”
The new flood gates are part of phase one of the Solomon Creek reconstruction project which also included new retaining walls. Phase two is currently underway which includes more walls and a pumping station.