BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- After decades of debate, ground has been broken for a flood protection wall in Bloomsburg.
The levee system is expected to save hundreds the headache of dealing with flood damage.
With a hefty dig and throw by state and area officials, the Bloomsburg flood Mitigation Project was one step closer to protecting property and people in Bloomsburg.
The groundbreaking ceremony held by the area high school's football field, where the levee system will run along the southern end of the community, along the Susquehanna River.
For residents who've been hit hard by flooding, like in 2011, the expansion project meant breathing a sigh of relief.
"It is kind of a helpless feeling when you see the water come up and there is not a thing you can do about it. It is one of those things you can't control," John Barton said.
County commissioners say the expansion project is expected to protect hundreds of homes and businesses in Bloomsburg.
The town's mile-long levee system will also shield the public works and fire department as well as the school district.
"Bloomsburg is the only town along the Susquehanna River without flood protection, so it has been long overdue and we have been working on this, I have been in office for 20 years, so we have been working on it for 20 years," said Columbia County Commissioner Chris Young.
"It is a big relief that we don't have to do the cleanup or do anything new, and not only that, but the flood insurance rates will go down," Barton said.
The Bloomsburg Flood Mitigation Project is estimated to cost $17 million and take over a year to complete.
Officials say the project will be funded by state and federal grants, as well as local funding.
"Whenever there is a threat of a hurricane or a coastal storm or that, they are not going to get flooded, so it is going to give folks peace of mind," said Young.
Officials expect work to begin on the project within the coming weeks.