Resident: Wilkes-Barre Dragging Its Feet Over Flooding Concerns
WILKES-BARRE — Concerned about potential flooding of his Parsons neighborhood, John Magda says city officials are dragging their feet in removing brush and debris from nearby Laurel Run.
His fears were compounded with the remnants of a major hurricane forecast to hit Pennsylvania on Monday.
Magda on Friday recalled the damage from flash flooding in several parts of Wilkes-Barre in November 2016 when a large storm system affected the entire eastern part of the country and “just exploded over eastern Pennsylvania,” according to one meteorologist at the time.
Then-mayor Tom Leighton had declared a state of emergency. A voluntary evacuation order was announced for residents of Cleveland Street and those living near Solomon Creek, Spring Bowman Run, Coal Brook Creek and Laurel Run Creek.
Leighton had asked residents who lived between 990 Scott St. and 1000 Scott St. to evacuate. Residents who lived in those homes, including Magda, had flooded basements and some had nearly four feet of water on their first floors.
Magda produced photos showing some of the damage in his neighborhood.
City crews last year removed vegetation and debris from the section of Laurel Run near that section of flood wall, downstream of the Scott Street bridge that passes over the tributary. But upstream, trees and plants extend out into the creek at least one-third of the width of the channel near the bridge. A little father upstream, there’s vegetation growing on what looks like an island in the center of the stream.
City Director of Operations Butch Frati said he expects the Department of Public Works will get to the vegetation removal sometime in October. He said the work has to be done by hand, unlike the downstream cleanup, because the upstream section has an especially rocky and uneven creek bed that won’t accommodate heavy equipment.
“Butch Frati promised me it would be done (this past) spring,” Magda said, doubting the fall work projection.
But Frati said the DPW was deluged with work this year and also had a severe shortage of part-time summer help during an especially wet summer, which limited the amount of work city employees could accomplish.
Pointing to an engineer’s report, Magda also complained about a stormwater system on nearby Motorworld property.
The report states that the detention basin system is working properly, but one section notes that there is some “sediment, trash, and/or debris” in the system, and “maintenance is recommended to ensure the system continues to function properly.”
Frati said the detention basin system is functioning well for its age and performing as it should.
He also noted that meteorologists had said later on Friday that Hurricane Florence was losing a lot of the water it had as it was making landfall.
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