During Bridgeville’s June 20 flood, dozens of residents trapped in their homes were rescued by volunteer firefighters guiding boats down streets that had turned to creeks.
Now, many of the same people are trapped in another way. They’re stuck living in buildings where flooding has become an increasing—and increasingly dangerous—problem.
As borough officials deal with the aftermath of Bridgeville’s most recent natural disaster, council should find a way to begin acquiring flooded properties from residents eager to sell, says former Bridgeville Mayor Pat DeBlasio, Jr.
“People are trapped in properties that they cannot get out of,” DeBlasio told council earlier this week. “If they sell them to someone else it just means someone else is trapped in a property in a flood zone.”
Buying up buildings on and around Baldwin Street would not be cheap, however, and Bridgeville is not swimming in money. Taking drastic action to address the town’s flood problem will require council to make some hard financial choices.
Council should start, DeBlasio said, by canceling a $488,000 payment that is supposed to help pay for the widening of the Chartiers Creek Bridge.
The road widening won’t break ground until the year 2020, DeBlasio said, and it’s a multi-community effort involving the state government.
Bridgeville’s flood problem is local and it’s now.
“This is tough for me,” he said. “That project is near and dear to my heart. I fought for it. But council should rescind its authorization and hold that money for Bridgeville. Between now and 2020, the state or federal government might come up with the money for what is a regional project.”
The former mayor also asked council to gather proposals from hydraulic engineers to find permanent solutions to Bridgeville’s flooding.
“We have pleaded with the Army Corps of Engineers too long,” he said.” Let’s find out what it would cost to have somebody look at McLaughlin Run and see if we can’t find a solution.
“Bridgeville has to take care of Bridgeville.”
Councilmembers did not respond to DeBlasio’s requests at the meeting.
On Monday, July 30, at 7 p.m. in the Bridgeville Borough Building, the planning commission is scheduled to discuss a flood alleviation plan that encompasses some of what DeBlasio mentioned.
Commissioned two years ago, the Baldwin Street Corridor plan would have the borough purchase several dozen buildings in the most flood-prone area, convert much of the land to water-absorbing greenspace, and alter the the path of Bower Hill Road and possibly the creek itself.
However, the project would be incredibly expensive—at least 10 times more than Bridgeville’s annual operating budget.