Still adding up the damages from the June 30th rain storm, Hawley Council has learned that the badly wrecked section of Prospect Street will be covered by grant money.
At the July 10th Council meeting, Vice-president Mary Sanders reported that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was being tapped to resurface Prospect Street prior to the storm. The Borough's application had been approved, and then the storm hit, with damage far exceeding the initial grant allocation for the street.
The hill section of Prospect has been closed to traffic since the storm. A torrential waterfall flowed over a stone wall and tore into the pavement, ripping parts of it literally to shreds. It was one of several streets damaged, but this was among the worst.
Sanders received a call from Jackie Young, director of the Wayne County Redevelopment Authority, which administers the county's share of the annual CDBG funding received from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Young reported that CDBG will cover the expense of restoring the street.
Thirty homes, businesses hit
Borough officials are tabulating damage estimates to pass on to the state with hopes that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance will be available to help residents, business owners and the borough recover from the terrific barrage of rain drops.
As of July 11th, estimates included $162,000 for the Borough roads; over $20,000 in cleanup costs by the Borough road crew, Hawley Fire Department and Hawley Police; just under $5,000 in expenses for the Hawley Area (sewer) Authority and as much as $516,500 sustained by private property owners. Additional affected properties are being reported.
Approximately 30 private property owners reported damage; three of these were businesses.
Damages varied. Michelle Rojas of Council recalled some examples. Furnaces and boilers were affected in some homes where basements filled up. An oil tank was lifted and floated. Yards were badly eroded. Landscaping was damaged. Water entered one home's first floor spreading muck.
Neighbors - and in one case a tenant- pitched in and reported damages for three homes where the owners could not do it themselves due to health or being in nursing homes.
Similar tabulation is occurring in Palmyra Township- Wayne.
Property owners with damage from the June 30th storm are asked to contact their local municipality as soon as possible. Property owners are urged to keep receipts and take pictures of damage.
Local officials are not yet certain funding will be forthcoming. Mayor Kevin Hawk said that the total accumulated damage in Pennsylvania must reach $17.5 million- a million more than earlier said- before a federal state of emergency can be declared for this state, and trigger FEMA help.
Councilman John Robertson, who chairs the Streets & Roads Committee, borrowed Charles Dickens' line that Hawley experienced both best and worst of times.
Page 2 of 3 - Full access over the Lackawaxen bridge on Route 6 was freed on Friday June 28 when the PennDOT project was finally done. Then on June 30, major access roads into the Borough were cut off when the intense rain storm struck. Nearly four inches of rain fell in three hours, overwhelming storm drains and catch basins.
Five year plan
Sanders asked her fellow Council members to adjust their priorities for future grant money, to concentrate on a long term upgrade of Hawley's ability to manage storm runoff. She said it will take a minimum of five years and won't be easy. It will be costly and complicated, including the need to run piping under private property.
Council member Elaine Herzog cautioned that while she agrees completely with the need to address storm water infrastructure, no one should expect this to be a guarantee that a future storm will not overwhelm the town again.
Council unanimously agreed to appoint Kiley & Associates for engineering services. The firm will provide the recommended plan for storm water improvements.
Meanwhile, Council will determine to what extent the annual state Liquid Fuels tax allocation will cover the cost of engineering, and then look at grant sources to fund the project. Sanders noted that the Borough will have to rely on grants as there is not enough local revenue to pay for what needs to be done.
State gaming funds allocated for sidewalk improvements will be withdrawn and redeignated for storm water engineering and infrastructure.
Sanders also stressed the need to coordinate this work with their neighbor, Palmyra Township- Wayne County, since much of the storm runoff flows down the hills of Palmyra into Hawley. Working together with another municipality also can assist in attaining grant approval.
• Hawley Fire Department handled 41 emergency calls on June 30 related to the storm. Forest, Lakeville, White Mills and Tafton fire companies assisted Hawley, and Ledgedale Dive Team was on standby.
• On July 2nd, Senator Lisa Baker and the three Wayne County Commissioners accompanied Mayor Kevin Hawk on a tour of storm-damaged areas.
• Council members worked as late as 11 p.m. on two evenings that week despite the holiday, talking with property owners about their storm damage. Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) officials came by on the 4th and met with Council members who were on hand volunteering at the carnival in the park. Sanders and Rojas stayed at the Borough Hall to contact residents to give reports to PEMA.
• On July 10, Deputy Fire Chief Eugene Krause took a team of FEMA officials around town to inspect damage.
• Paupack Township contributed use of a truck and a worker one day to help the Borough cleanup.
• Hawley Fire Department hosed down the Hawley IGA parking lot, which was covered with mud.
Page 3 of 3 - • Local residents were thanked for alerting the Borough to runoff problems since the June 30 storm. William Delling reported a potential drain issue at Church and Academy; John Reid reported a potential flooding problem from debris left from the June 30th storm at Maple and Church; Stephen Gironta expressed concern about runoff on Atkinson from Welwood.
• Thanks were expressed to local residents and emergency responders for their help through the ordeal. Mayor Hawk said it makes him proud to live in Hawley.
Hawley Borough Office may be contacted at (570)226-9545. Palmyra Township (Wayne) property owners should call the Township office at 226-6566.