Will West Pittston Ever Get a Levee?

WEST PITTSTON -- The threat of flooding caused by the ice jams had a community in Luzerne County worried.

West Pittston sits just north of the levee that protects other communities.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently finished a preliminary study of extending the Susquehanna levee north to West Pittston. The results are not what most homeowners in town wanted to hear.

Michael Branley's house sits just across Susquehanna Avenue, with a view of the Susquehanna River.

"It's beautiful. It's where you want to be," Branley said.

On Wednesday, it didn't seem so beautiful. Some of Branley's neighbors had to be evacuated from their homes. Ice jams threatened to flood part of West Pittston.

"If we were offered a levee, I think virtually every resident would support that decision and look forward to the safety it would bring."

After the flooding from Hurricane Agnes in 1972, people in West Pittston wanted the levee extended north to protect their homes, but a recent Army Corps of Engineers preliminary study finds a levee would cost $51 million.

"There are not sufficient benefits to warrant federal interest in the continuation of a feasibility study. The Corps of Engineers recommends that the West Pittston Flood Management Study be terminated," the Army Corps of Engineers recommended in a statement.

Joe Valenti lives three blocks away from the Susquehanna.

"We know what that river's like. We've been through it countless times. So is it fair? Life isn't fair, and that's the risk you take," Valenti said.

You can see frozen high-water marks on the front lawns along Susquehanna Avenue in West Pittston. And they point up another concern -- flood insurance.

"A levee would put us in an entirely different zone, and make flood insurance affordable for everyone," Branley said.

After the floods of 2011, West Pittston's flood zone expanded. It required more homeowners to buy flood insurance where premiums continue to rise. And Branley fears the cost of insuring a home in the flood zone will become too expensive.

"It's more than problematic. It's something that we just don't see being able to endure."

Branley hopes the federal government would offer more cost-effective ways of protecting homes near the river, one of which would include money to raise houses to higher levels.

Most people in West Pittston now realize it is unlikely a protective levee will ever be extended.

9 comments

  • Givemeabreak

    No levee, no FEMA help. These people voted down their levy so they could look at the 40 some sewers that dump into the river in Pittston. So now everytime it floods, flood insurance is paying out which raises the rate of everyone’s insurance and FEMA money is taxpayer money. These people take in their own way and the majority of people that live along Susquehanna Ave are doctors and lawyers. The few have the pull and power to effect everyone else in West Pittston and take from others. See just goes to show you that money doesn’t equal brains. Anyone with any common sense wouldn’t buy a house right next to the river. All that money and no brains and yet we get stuck footing the bill for these sewage lookers because they think they’re fancy.

    When your house sits on the top of the mountain and gets flooded that is just bad luck but if you build your house next to a river and it floods that was only a matter of time.

  • Levee this!

    Levees only pass the buck downstream to the next town. What are we going to do, levee in the whole Susquehanna? DON’T LIVE NEXT TO A VIOLENT WATER SYSTEM KNUCKLEHEADS!

  • NotJoeMaddon

    “If we were offered a levee, I think virtually every resident would support that decision and look forward to the safety it would bring.” Even if you had to pay for it?

  • Jammie87

    People CHOOSE to live near the River.
    Whey should we all pay for their life choices and their lifestyle when river flowing normally?

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