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Help for Green Lane Flood Victims in the Works
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2022-03-23

            Flooding along the Macoby and Perkiomen Creeks in Green Lane has been an ongoing issue in the borough for many years.  The problem has intensified in recent years with devastating storms and upstream development.

            Recent flooding caused extensive damage and required first responders to evacuate residents using a boat.

            At times, some aid was available.  But, as the years passed, the danger and recurring expenses were becoming too much to handle for property owners.

            Last September, after Hurricane Ida dealt another damaging blow to the borough, an affected resident called State Representative Tracy Pennycuick (147) for help.  Rep. Pennycuick contacted Green Lane Mayor Lynn Wolfe about a program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).

            The Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs promote funding for mitigation measures that reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from future disasters.  As it turns out, the borough property owners could be eligible because Hurricane Ida was declared a National Disaster.

            A little more than a month after Hurricane Ida swept through the borough, a group of state, county, and borough officials met with local residents at the Green Lane firehouse on October 12, 2021.

            They reviewed the prior flooding history and the impacts of the latest event.  They reviewed previous mitigation efforts, previous attempts to secure funding, and the condition of the Lumber Street Bridge.

            Corrective and mitigation options were reviewed, including a study to dredge the Macoby Creek, repair the bridge, and possible stormwater drainage solutions.  Included in the discussion were roadway safety preparations and suggestions for dealing with future storms from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), which is responsible for the maintenance of the Lumber Street bridge.

            In a letter to Lumber Street residents dated November 21, 2021, Pennycuick thanked them for their attendance and participation in the October meeting.  The letter also outlined PennDOT's response to the condition of the Lumber Street Bridge.

            In part, it reported that after an inspection on September 5, 2021, the only concern that was identified was a "washout at an adjacent property located near left roadway approach to the bridge."  It also reported that, based on a July 16, 2021 inspection, the bridge is considered to be in "poor" condition.  On a scale of 0-9 for deck, superstructure, and substructure the Lumber Street bridge scored 4's in all categories.

            Prior to 2021, the bridge was inspected in July and December of 2019.  For both inspections, the bridge scored 4's in all categories.

            According to the letter, PennDOT deemed the bridge safe for travel.

            But perhaps the most important information to come from the October meeting was the discussion of Hazard Mitigation Grants, a program that could be available to residential properties in Green Lane.

           

            Knowing that the water will continue to flow downstream and future heavy rainfalls and storms will only worsen the situation on Lumber Street and Gravel Pike, the Property Acquisitions for Open Space could eventually emerge as the better alternative.

That is when Borough Secretary/Treasurer Mary T. Garber went to work as the point person for the project.  The paperwork involved grew, and the responsibilities increased as the project progressed.

            Information needed to be shared and applications needed to be completed by property owners.

By the time a second meeting was held on December 9, 2021, nine property owners, owning 11 properties on Lumber Street and Gravel Pike, applied to be a part of the program. 

            Damage estimates were based on market values provided by property owners.  Property appraisals will be performed after the borough's application is approved.

The goal is to mitigate future damage by demolishing the homes and returning the properties to open space and providing those owners with fair-market value for those properties.

            Next up were two separate training sessions in January for Garber on the application process and properly completing the necessary forms.  With the process in motion and forms submitted, the method to mitigate the dangerous conditions could be had in the near future.

            Mayor Wolfe indicated that final approval isn't here yet, but the amount the borough could receive could be in excess of $2 million.

            PEMA is in the process of reviewing the grant and associated forms now.  Wolf said she is expecting "an update from PEMA in April."  Once PEMA has approved the application, it will go on to FEMA for review and approval.

            The mayor is hoping that the process will be completed in July or August of this year.


 

 

 

 

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