My Corner, Your Corner: How long do West Pittston residents have to worry?

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

It’s been 10 days since West Pittston dodged the proverbial bullet, but is the coast clear?

It’s too early in the winter to predict what will happen weather wise but with tons of ice still clinging on to the river shoreline; we can only hope for the best.

When you observe both the Pittston and West Pittston riverbanks, it’s hard not to be amazed at the size of those mini glaciers. I bet some are 20 feet in height. What’s really impressive is the line of ice that pretty much smashed into the West Side of the Spc. Dale Kridlo Bridge.

Someone posted a video of the ice jamming its way south along the West Pittston side and you can hear and see the crackling of trees and branches being steamrolled as it presses into the bridge.

Next time you enter or exit the Kridlo Bridge, take note of all the trees and debris against the bridge up-river side.

My joke about how all this ice will still be here in June seems a bit far-fetched, but unless higher river levels take some of it away, I’m not sure how long it will take before it disappears completely.

I do believe the landscape on the West Side will take on a bit of a different look with so many trees, bushes and wild shrubbery gone. On the upside, the riverbank may look much cleaner.

Even though the damage to homes was far less than what happened in 2011, there are still a number of homes that took on basement water, especially at the borough’s lowest levels at the end of Philadelphia Avenue.

Approximately 30 to 35 homes that have been torn down or still in the process of being razed from the effects of Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. The question is, how many people who have had some type of flooding this time around that will raise the white flag and surrender?

There are a lot of frustrated homeowners who can’t take one more flood. Who can blame them? In preparing to write a separate article regarding the flood, I learned that flood insurance differs greatly from one end of Susquehanna Avenue to the other.

The range is a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. I’ve heard some are paying as much as $4,000 to $5,000 a year for protection.

At times, I fear for the future of the borough. West Pittston has lost so much of its tax base as it is, so what will happen when more people take advantage of current or future government buyouts?

The rub on all of this is, once you take the buyout, nothing can be built on that property…. EVER!

The borough will have tons of green space and neighborhood gardens that residents won’t ever have to shop for produce. I jest, of course, but it’s no laughing matter.

There’s always controversy when it comes time to discuss a levee system in the borough. What really happened after Agnes in 1972? Did a few Susquehanna Avenue residents have that much power over the Army Corp. of Engineers to stop further efforts of a dike just to have a view of the not-so-nice river?

According to the U.S. government, it’s a numbers game. Government officials don’t believe it’s cost effective to put up a dike and the very last opinion of the Army Corp. of Engineers is – it’s not going to happen. End of story.

So what does the borough do? Who can people turn to if the federal government has closed talks of a levee?

Let’s start a Go Fund Me campaign! Maybe we can find empathy from people all around the world to raise the $52 million to install a levee system.

It was so different in 1972 when the entire Wyoming Valley was devastated by the flood, gaining national attention and aid came pouring in from everywhere. And it didn’t hurt that Congressman Dan Flood (I still find it ironic that his last name was flood) was one of the most powerful and influential people in Congress at the time.

In 2011, West Pittston was on its own since the levee system did its job downstream, saving Kingston and Wilkes-Barre. In fact, it did such a good job that the flood numbers exceeded Agnes by several feet. Pretty impressive since Agnes was deemed a “100-year flood.”

In ’72, everyone helped his or her fellow man. You know — “The Valley with a Heart.” In 2011, it seemed like West Pittston residents had to dig out by themselves.

So here we are in 2018 and West Pittston folks are still out there hanging.

It’s just not right and, in my mind, $52 million doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay regarding lives, personal property, pain, anguish, stress, sadness and even destitution.

Elected officials are the only people residents can turn to for help. It’s up to them to offer some kind of relief from the mighty Susquehanna.

Quote of the week

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – Walter Bagehot, British economist

Thought of the week

“To grow mature is to separate more distinctly, to connect more closely.” – Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Austrian poet

Bumper sticker

“We are always the same age inside.” – Gertrude Stein, American writer

My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio