Storms Cause Erosion Near Homes by Underground Stream

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SCRANTON -- A layer of dirt covers Albert Young's driveway on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton. Thursday night, the driveway was under a foot of water while the underground stream known as Meadowbrook Creek, swelled and flooded.

"50 years is plenty of time for somebody to put up with this kind of nonsense," said Young.

In an Action 16 Investigation last summer, Young showed us paperwork which he says proves state and local governments promised and failed to fix a problem he's complained about since the 1960s. Meadowbrook Creek runs from Dunmore, through Scranton's Green Ridge neighborhood and empties into the Lackawanna River. Six years ago, Scranton and Lackawanna County encased about a half mile of the creek near the Lackawanna River and almost eliminated erosion.

But, several homeowners like Young are still waiting to get his erosion problem taken care of. Over the years, the underground stream eroded his backyard so badly that he can't park cars on his driveway. And, it's getting worse. "I was losing maybe a quarter-inch of land every rain storm. Thursday night, I actually lost about three feet," said Young.

When Action 16 pulled away the backyard grate that covers the stream, we found trees, branches, and debris clogging the underground stream's path, potentially creating a dam that could make flooding worse.

A block away on Penn Avenue, the Meadowbrook Creek briefly rises above ground. It normally is about an inch deep and six inches wide. "It had taken at least 12 to 15 feet wide of water, and it was probably 3-4 feet high," says Pamela Yashinski, who fears the underground stream is about to ruin her pool. Pamela Yashinski's next door neighbor's garage has so many new cracks, it appears ready to collapse.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection plans to design a system of half pipes to reduce erosion. But, DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly says, because of a limited budget, the solution is at least two or three years away.

Albert Young is skeptical about ever getting help.

"Nobody wants to put any money into an underground creek that they didn't create," Young said.

Several homeowners whose properties are threatened by the underground stream will be taking their case to the DEP. If the agency finds the damage qualifies as an emergency, the DEP can bump up the timetable to fix the erosion.