Last updated: July 30. 2014 12:38PM - 784 Views
By - nwagner@civitasmedia.com

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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey started the the push today for funding that could aid a West Pittston levee project that has been discussed.

In a letter to a key Senate committee with oversight over flood funding, Casey called on the Committee to support the current funding in the House proposal of $20 million. The Section 205 program is part of the Small Flood Risk Management Project (SFRMP). This will help provide federal funding to smaller flood control projects that don’t require extensive studies and authorization procedures.

West Pittston, Casey said is one example of a municipality that could benefit from an increase in funding. In September 2011 the borough experienced a flood that caused millions of dollars in damage to more than 400 homes. Recently, West Pittston has revamped efforts to consider construction of a levee, but a backlog in requests for the SFRMP continues to delay federal analysis of this effort.

In February of this year, West Pittston Tomorrow asked West Pittston residents and surrounding communities to sign a petition addressed to state and federal officials urging that the borough get flood protection accorded to other nearby West Side residents.

The petition, addressed to Gov. Tom Corbett, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright among others, asks federal and state officials “to vigorously and persistently make the case to the U.S. Army Corps for West Pittston’s urgent need for adequate flood protection, the same protection already provided for the vast majority of Wyoming Valley residents.”

The petition listed eight facts about the Wyoming Valley levee project that “unfairly” leave West Pittston, “the only densely populated riverside community without flood protection.”

It requests that the 1.4-mile gap remaining in the Wyoming Valley Levee System … “be filled in.”

“The 2011 flood that devastated West Pittston serves as a stark reminder that it is far more economical to manage flooding before it occurs, rather than wait until the damage hits,” Casey said in his letter. “The Army Corps of Engineers is currently backed up with requests from municipalities like West Pittston that need assistance to help protect their communities from damaging floods. I urge my colleagues to strongly consider helping to ease this backlog by providing the additional funding.”

The SFRMP is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, as authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1948. Qualifying projects are only accepted if they are economical, environmentally sound, and technically feasible. In Fiscal Year 2014 the SFRMP received $15 million in federal funding.

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