U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has begun the push for funding that could aid the proposed West Pittston levee project.
In a letter to a key Senate committee with oversight over flood funding, Casey, D-Scranton, Wednesday 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.
“What he is doing is very important,” West Pittston Tomorrow President Judy Aita said. “It was pushed by (U.S. Rep. Matt) Cartwright and now it’s very important to get the Senate on board with that. That was a very important step.”
In February 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 West Side residents.
The petition, addressed to Gov. Tom Corbett, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and Cartwright, D-Moosic, 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, which Aita said has 1,500 signatures, 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.”
Originally, West Pittston was left out of the Wyoming Valley Levee System because it did not meet the cost-benefit ratio to 1:1, according to the Army Corp of Engineers. Aita and company had a problem with this because they were never given documentation to how the borough failed to reach that ratio.
“They essentially told us we don’t exist,” Aita said of the Army Corp at a meeting last week. “It was a very distressing meeting, so this is good news.”