Flood meeting help requests | News, Sports, Jobs
Altoona officials heard a wave of distress over the flooding on Tuesday, especially from residents of the Brush Run area between the boulevards of Pleasant Valley.
It was the first of two public meetings on how the city should spend its $ 39 million US bailout.
At one point, Joyce Smyser of the 900 block of 10th Street paused for several seconds not to cry, after telling city council members and city manager Omar Strohm that Brush Run during periods of heavy rain is “now a river instead of a stream.”
“It’s raining now, and I’m grinding my teeth,” said Debbie Kelly of the 1000 block of Valley View Boulevard, one of eight residents who spoke about the flooding between the boulevards. These floods have become more frequent and more severe, damaging backyards, fixtures and basement furniture, leaving mold in the walls and reducing property values. “I can’t take much more” Kelly said.
A significant portion of the money is expected to be spent on flood mitigation, council members said afterwards.
“It’s pretty obvious that this is an overwhelming concern”, said City Councilor Jesse Ickes.
“Heartbreaking Tales” said City Councilor Dave Butterbaugh. “We certainly need to use some of the money to fix the problems we’ve heard about.”
Sewer infrastructure is one of many explicitly eligible uses, according to Strohm.
Risk mitigation buyouts followed by house demolitions for some of the most flood-prone properties may make the most sense, according to two of 14 residents who spoke – of around 40 people in attendance.
Ickes, Butterbaugh and City Councilor Bruce Kelley were in agreement with this, although it was not certain the ARP would allow the buyouts, officials said.
It might be better to check out the possibility of securing separate – and traditional – Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for these, so that ARP money can be used for other needs. .
But that would require a disaster declaration, which was not provided after the severe flooding on June 19.
The water in her house that day was 3-4 feet deep in the front, sides and back, which scared her daughter, who uses a wheelchair and was therefore “stuck up,” said Debbie Kelly.
For Cathy Tellish of the 1300 block of South Jaggard Street, June 10 was largely a resumption of a 2018 flood, when sewage rose through drains and passed through vents in her home, causing 20,000 $ damage.
The drywall had to be replaced up to 18 inches above the ground.
After that 2018 flood, she installed a check valve, but it gave way during the recent flooding, she said.
Since then, she has been living with a sewer contaminated interior, plastic sheeting on the floor, as the cleaning contractors have been too busy to get to her house.
Last week, when it started to rain, she sat on her sofa with her two dogs in fear of the worst.
“Just horrible” she said.
Intensity on the rise
The flooding along Brush Run is nothing new, but the intensity is, according to residents.
Gary Evans of Adams Avenue has lived between the boulevards for 26 years and the June 10 storm was the worst he had ever seen.
“There is definitely a change in the weather structure”, said Ickes.
Changes in drainage patterns due to construction projects in recent years may also be a part of it, Evans said.
“The problem is at the top of the hill” said John Mashensic of the 800 block of South 15th Street, which was flooded eight times in
He meant the two hills – towards Brush Mountain in the east and towards the heart of the city in the west, he clarified.
“This weather pattern is not going to change”, Mashensic said. “He’s trying to put tons of water in a 2-pound bag.”
Other residents complained of flooding in other areas – and the worsening situation in those areas as well.
Amanda Harlow lives in the 1100 block of 21st Avenue, in a trough, where high water destroyed 10 cars and flooded basements to the ceiling.
Such a flood had never happened before, even when it was raining hard, she said. “I don’t know what has changed.”
Lonnie Hrzic lives several blocks away in the 1300 block of 23rd Avenue, not far from the old Oakton Reservoir.
She asked city officials to help her control the water from a large pipe that drains into the street and passes over an unfilled embankment down a wooded hill to her property.
This problem is getting worse for her, she said.
Tony Biddle owns a property on the 400 block of Seventh Avenue, where flooding has occurred due to rising sewage in the drains.
It is in an area where storm and sanitary water flow together in the same pipes.
Maybe it’s time to separate those functions, Biddle said.
Separating the city’s combined sewers would be extremely expensive, officials said.
Other ideas expressed
Not everyone spoke of flooding on Tuesday.
The city should use the ARP money to extend the walking and hiking trail that the Township of Antis is building to the city limits across the city, so that the trail can eventually connect with the trails of the townspeople. Hollidaysburg and Williamsburg areas, said Dave Woleslagle.
City officials should reach out to residents to offer help, especially the poor, people of color and small business owners, said Harriett Gaston.
In addition to investments in sewer infrastructure, ARP money can be used to offset negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19; to replace lost public sector revenue, provided the money goes to established government services; investing in water and broadband infrastructure; and provide a bonus to essential workers, according to Strohm.
Money cannot be used to strengthen pension funds; repay debt service; pay legal settlements or judgments; increase financial reserves; or for infrastructure other than water, sewers and broadband.
The city is already considering stormwater improvements in many areas; partial “reconstitution” the city’s workforce, which fell at the start of the year, partly in anticipation of loss of income; broadband infrastructure improvements; grants or loans for businesses damaged by COVID-19; and cybersecurity improvements, according to Strohm.
William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.