To: Vice President Biden, Governor Corbett, Senator Casey, Senator Toomey, Congressman Cartwright,
State Senator Yudichak, State Representative Mundy, Luzerne County Flood Authority
As a taxpaying citizen concerned about the welfare and future of West Pittston Borough, its residents and Wyoming Area School District, I request that the 1.4-mile gap remaining in the Wyoming Valley (WV) Levee System, specifically in West Pittston, be filled in, and that construction of this project be funded and begun without further delay.
I ask that you consider the following:
1. West Pittston is, was, and always has been a part of the Wyoming Valley. Accordingly, West Pittston was originally included in the Army Corps of Engineers’ plans as a fifth segment of the WV Levee System and was unfairly excluded so that $24 million in construction costs would be freed and the stalled project could move forward. As it now stands, therefore, West Pittston remains the only densely populated riverside community without flood protection.
2. The Army Corps and others now insist that a new and separate Benefit to Cost Ratio (BCR) be required of West Pittston for a levee. This requirement is unfair because each of the other four segments of the WV System did not require their own BCRs; nor were separate BCRs required for the proposed inflatable dam or more recent projects such as the $24 million Wilkes-Barre portal project.
3. When West Pittston was excluded from the project, the Army Corps predicted that 3 to 4 feet of upstream induced flooding would result. That is exactly what happened during Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011, unfairly making West Pittston Borough the “spill basin” of the Valley.
4. To “compensate” West Pittston for the predicted additional flooding, millions were promised in mitigation dollars. Few, if any, of those funds have been delivered. Unfairly, that promised money must now be budgeted annually by the Federal government.
5. Because none of the promised mitigation money reached West Pittston prior to Tropical Storm Lee, 880 of West Pittston’s unmitigated homes were damaged, many as a result of the induced flooding predicted by the Army Corps, and those homes still remain unfairly in harm’s way.
6. As a result of the recent Biggert-Waters Act, West Pittston’s unmitigated and unprotected homes that remain in the 100 year flood plain are now unfairly subjected to exorbitant, skyrocketing flood insurance premiums, often more than 10 times greater than downstream levee-protected Wyoming Valley neighbors.
7. West Pittston is and has always been considered a part of the Wyoming Valley. As a result, its tax dollars were included in the construction and maintenance of the WV Levee. However, now West Pittston is unfairly considered a separate entity when it seeks the same protection.
8. Millions of dollars continue to be poured into our nation’s and our state’s infrastructures to rectify possible safety issues, while nearly 5,000 residents in West Pittston remain unfairly in peril, with predicted and proven disastrous results.
At this critical time, we call upon you and your fellow elected representatives to vigorously and persistently make the case to the U.S. Army Corps for West Pittston’s urgent need for adequate flood protection, the same protection already provided for the vast majority of Wyoming Valley residents.
N.B. - As of 7/31/13 West Pittston has had the dubious distinction of being #1 IN THE STATE in average NFIP claims. $60,715 per household
since 1978.....and counting. (with communities reporting 100 or more losses)
Sponsored and Circulated by West Pittston Tomorrow