New Pumps to Fight Flooding In Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE -- Flood waters have hit the Brookside section of Wilkes-Barre again and again over the years. The city announced upgrades to a pump station to help prevent flooding.

Two years ago, Brookside Street in Wilkes-Barre looked like a river in place of a street. People were rescued from their homes by boat.

It's a day Andy Kotlarchick remembers well.

"I live halfway up the road here, and we all had to get out. You couldn't stay here because there was sewage all over the place," said Andy Kotlarchick, of Wilkes-Barre.

The problem? The water pump station on Weir Street is 30 years old. When the river flooded, nearby Laurel Run Creek got backed up and overflowed into that part of Wilkes-Barre. It was too much water for the pumps to manage.

That's why the city broke ground on three new pumps for the station.

"They should have done this a long time ago."

Neighbors in the Brookside section have marked on a pole where the water has hit for every flood, and they and the mayor are hoping that with these new pumps, they won't have to mark the pole again.

"It's not that the pumps failed, but these are new pumps, more energy-efficient, which will pump the water out of here much quicker," said Mayor Tom Leighton.

Andy Kotlarchick and his neighbors worked together to get the pumps replaced.

"If you go by yourself, you could yell at these politicians all you want. They're not going to do nothing. It goes into one ear and out the other, but with the group, they'll listen to you," said Kotlarchick.

The mayor says savings from energy-efficient projects in the city will pay off the $275,000 loan for the pumps. But neighbors longing for a solution say keeping future floodwater out of their homes is priceless.

"Slowly we're getting it done, but I hope we don't get flooded again."

The mayor says it will take about two weeks to finish installing the new pumps on Weir Street in Wilkes-Barre.