EXETER – Borough council on Tuesday night heard from residents frustrated by a lack of action concerning constant flooding issues related to the Hicks Creek.
Council President Richard Murawski tried to explain to the large crowd the actions the borough has taken to deal with two months of wet weather. He said temporary pumps have been utilized at the Exeter pumping station to pump water from the creek into the river.
He said the creek is prevented from flowing into the river by the levee when the river reaches 17 feet. Then the creek water has to be pumped over the levee to avoid major flooding of large parts of the borough.
Murawski said the pump house that used to force the water over the county-owned levee has not had working pumps since 2006. He said the borough borrows and rents pumps to save the town on its own.
However, he said, there isn’t enough room to station pumps large enough to stop all the flooding. He said the borough is looking at $300,000 to $500,000 to replace the nonfunctioning pumps and possibly up to $10 million if a new pump house were built.
Murawski said the county, state and federal governments have promised help for years. However, the levee improvement projects did not address the problem and the county Flood Protection Authority has not helped the borough.
Solicitor Peter Moses said the county borrowed some money through a bond issue years ago to help the borough, but it has never disbursed all the funds.
Tom Martin of the Hicks Creek Watershed Association said the state, while admitting that it approved developments in the past that have added to the problem, points to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has not included the Hicks Creek problem in its past projects.
Murawski said the borough has gotten to the point at which the federal government has told the borough that an act of Congress is required to stop the flooding of homes in Exeter.
Council members urged residents to write to their legislators asking for help. Officials even provided sample letters and addresses.
Murawski told residents that Jim Brozena, the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority executive director, was asked to attend the meeting but he was unable to. He did send an e-mail explaining the latest in a long line of studies is to be completed soon by Baker and Associates.
State Sen. John Yudichak and state Rep. Phyllis Mundy have met with the council and pledged assistance, as has the staff of U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta.
The next regular council meeting is at 7 p.m. June 7 at the borough building.