Pennsylvania Flood Damage Could Top $1M

July 8, 2011

As cleanup efforts in northeastern Pennsylvania continued, state and federal officials crunched numbers to get a dollar amount on damages from flash flooding that damaged homes and washed out bridges and roads.

Damages could be in the millions. A preliminary estimate for road and other infrastructure damage on Coal Street alone in Plymouth borough — among the hardest hit areas from Sunday’s flooding — put the damage at about $1 million, emergency management officials said.

“At least 100 feet to 200 feet of roadway looks as if an earthquake occurred,” state Sen. John Yudichak said Wednesday in a phone interview from his Plymouth office. “We’re grateful there’s no loss of life.”

Yudichak and other officials said it was too early to provide a larger estimate of the damage. Local and county officials were still receiving reports from homeowners, while state workers were also still performing additional assessments.

“The preliminary figures thrown out, from what we’ve heard and just seeing the damage that we’ve seen, it’s definitely not nearly enough,” Mayor Dorothy Petrosky said. “The process is just beginning.”

Plymouth Borough and Plymouth Township received the brunt of the flooding, while there were also reports of infrastructure damage in nearby Jackson Township, said Lucy Morgan, deputy coordinator of the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency.

Plymouth borough manager Joe Mazur told The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre in Wednesday’s editions that more than 200 residents there had reported damage to their properties. Michael Stalnecker, emergency management specialist for PEMA, told the paper there was a $16 million threshold required to qualify for a presidential declaration for a disaster area.

Yudichak said it was still unclear if that threshold would be reached. No assessment has been made yet of damage to private property, which is reached separately.

Heavy rains and raging creek waters flipped a Chevy Trailblazer upside down in front of the Coal Street home of Margaret Allabaugh and her daughter, Diane.

“This car is from the lady up at the corner and it came all the way down here,” Allabaugh told The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre, adding that wind and heavy rains took her boat and trailer down the street.

Officials have 30 days after the date of the flooding to apply for a presidential declaration, and 60 days to apply for eligibility for federal low-interest loans.

The area has received help including equipment and large machinery from neighboring municipalities to help with cleanup efforts, said Petrosky, who welcomed additional offers of assistance to the borough. The Red Cross has distributed about 100 cleanup kits.

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