Feds Rate Levee “Minimally Acceptable”

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The long anticipated federal report on the condition of the Wyoming Valley levee system is finally out.

In it the federal officials call the levee system "minimally acceptable."

County officials said that minimally acceptable rating basically means a flood happened tomorrow, the levee would hold and protect the people of the Wyoming Valley.

The report also said repairs will have to be made.

Seven months ago when the Susquehanna River at Wilkes-Barre crested at a record level the Wyoming Valley levee system did its job.

The walls held back the 42 foot crest of the Susquehanna, saving homes and likely saving lives.

Federal inspectors toured the levee after the flood and rated it as minimally acceptable. That's a rating Luzerne County Flood Director Jim Brozena calls common and said it is like most of the other levee systems in America.

"We have a system that is capable of handling the events that it is designed for. We are going to come back and address the issues that occurred in September and strengthen it even further," said Brozena.

Officials said repairs on this levee will include clearing away vegetation and brush and strengthening the areas by the Forty Fort soccer fields where river water actually came up the other side of the levee.

Some people in Forty Fort said regardless of the strength of this levee, they don't want to be anywhere near here when the water gets that high.

Mike Murphy said he had to run for his life back in 1972 during Hurricane Agnes when the wall he was sandbagging gave way. His home in Forty Fort took on nine feet of water.

"You've got a larger wall out there, you can contain more water however '72 when it came in it was horrendous. It`s something you don't want to live through again," said Murphy.

Repair work on the levee is scheduled to begin this fall.

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