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Unemployed Workers Help with Flood Recovery

Posted on: 6:55 pm, February 15, 2012, by , updated on: 02:48pm, February 16, 2012

It’s been more than five months since flooding hit the Pine Grove area of Schuylkill County and people are continuing to clean up.

Work is underway to help prevent future flooding along Swatara Creek in Pine Grove.

Fed by heavy rain, the waterway swelled and flooded the community.

There is a program underway to remove debris and to allow the water to flow smoothly and not back up and flood homes and businesses.

The workers cleaning out the creek were recently all unemployed, but because Schuylkill County was declared a disaster area, a federal grant is paying for this flood control project.

“I was laid off and I got into this program to help pay the bills. I could collect unemployment but I would rather work.  Let the people who really need the money have it. I like working. It doesn’t matter what I do,” said Ernie Scott of Minersville.

Some of these workers said the job market is tight.

“You can’t pick and choose sometimes you have to jump in and try some new stuff you’re not equipped to doing but you have to give it a chance. I never thought I’d be clearing out rivers,” said Luke Whitaker of Girardville.

Project coordinators said this project is designed to help people and places.

“It helps municipalities, there is no real financial burden on them and it helps displaced workers find some employment issues,” said Joe Slovick, project coordinator.

Slovick said there is plenty of work to do to reduce the flooding threat in the Pine Grove area.

“Our program is designed to work for six months but because of the time frame and magnitude of work, our program will go to December, 2012,” Slovick said.

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