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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • FEMA municipal storm aid passes

  • Although private citizens affected by the heavy rains last June won't be eligible for federal assistance, help will be coming to fix the roads, bridges and other infrastructure that was damaged in their boroughs or townships.
    This includes the deluge that struck Hawley on June 30th.
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  • Although private citizens affected by the heavy rains last June won't be eligible for federal assistance, help will be coming to fix the roads, bridges and other infrastructure that was damaged in their boroughs or townships.
    This includes the deluge that struck Hawley on June 30th.
    Pete Hooker, Deputy Coordinator for Wayne County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the claims of residents seeking help, since the total costs submitted did not rise high enough to meet the federal threshold.
    Hawley Borough and nearby areas in Palmyra Township (Wayne) were heavily impacted by intense rain on Sunday afternoon, June 30. The storm damaged streets, flooded basements and caused other property damage in and around Hawley. Another deluge affected areas of northern Wayne County a few days before, on June 27.
    Wayne County EMA collected claims and submitted them to the state, which in turn passed them on to the federal level. FEMA turned down the entire request the first time around, not recognizing that the two events were part of the same storm system and thus could bring the damage total to the level that triggers emergency assistance. Governor Corbett resubmitted the request with supporting data from the National Weather Service.
    In the last couple weeks FEMA met with local municipalities about damage to public infrastructure such as roads, culverts and bridges.
    Hooker stated that it has been real hard explaining to residents that the damage they suffered could not be reimbursed from FEMA. Those residents are on their own, he said, and not everyone had flood insurance. In some cases, basements were filled with water, damaging electrical and heating systems.
    He said that the Wayne County EMA office has brochures available about National Flood Insurance. Hooker said that this program provides flood insurance to anyone, regardless of where they live.
    ••• Planning repairs in Hawley
    Hawley Council discussed the storm at their meeting, Nov. 13.
    One particularly bad situation was revealed where water flowed down the hill in East Hawley, plugging a large culvert with debris. The home of Sharon Gries on Route 6, and The Settlers Inn across the street were impacted.
    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives met with Borough officials on site. There was concern the repair cost could reach $100,000, which would mean for the Borough taking out a loan while waiting for FEMA reimbursement. That cost was later downgraded to around $60,000 to $70,000 to replace the old culvert with corrugated metal pipe. The culvert run under Gries' property and beneath Route 6, coming out into the ditch (which is actually part of the old D&H Canal) on Settlers' Inn property. The ditch drains to the river, nearby.
    Lou Cozza, who works with the engineering firm Kiley Associates, advised the Borough that the culvert could be flushed and vacuum cleaned and may cost around $15,000. Another option would be to replace the pipe on the Gries' property and clean out the rest. This option may cost about $30,000.
    Page 2 of 2 - Speciality equipment would be needed. Cozza had an estimate from one contractor but there are not many in the area that could do the work, he said.
    Cozza cautioned that a General Permit would be needed from the PA Department of Environmental Protection if an active stream is identified in that section. In that case the new culvert would need to be buried below the stream bed.
    Council Vice-president Mary Sanders said that these lower-cost solutions were very good news for the Borough. Cozza asked Council to direct him which approach to take.
    Sanders later told The News Eagle that a FEMA representative came back on Friday to discuss the project. Kiley Associates will prepare the documents and estimates to clean out the pipe both under Gries' property and Route 6. Once cleaned out and they can better tell how much damage occurred, the pipe under Gries' land may need to be replaced.
    A quarter of the funding reimbursement will come from the State. The Borough is not expected to pay anything as long as the work meets the FEMA criteria.
    ••• Other streets
    Hawley Borough may also research for a grant to pay for drainage improvements on Paupack Street. The ends towards Welwood Avenue is frequently impacted; if the section is impassable then the only exit for motorists is on the drive up past Ledges Hotel. This access would not be a good option for fire trucks if they were needed.
    The June 30th storm also caused a sinkhole at the junction of Welwood Avenue and Atkinson Street. The Borough expects to be reimbursed from FEMA for this repair.
    Funding to repair other streets heavily damaged by the storm came from other sources. A paving grant previously approved through the County for Paupack Street was adjusted, and covered the cost for flood damages on the hill section. Hawley Water Company will also be doing work there; afterwards the road will be paved.
    Storm damage to Chestnut and Wangum Avenues, Pine Street and the nearby part of Church Street is expected to be covered by a Local Share Grant administered by the State, from Mount Airy Casino revenue.

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