TMA facing uphill battle to fix flood damaged water lines

Towanda Borough Manager Kyle Lane speaks during the TMA’s meeting on Monday afternoon.

TOWANDA BOROUGH — The Towanda Municipal Authority is in a dilemma on how to properly address damages sustained in the 2018 flood, borough manager Kyle Lane reported to the board in their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday afternoon.

Lane told the board that he met with program delivery managers, who act as a liaison to FEMA, recently to survey the damages and show them how they would like to address the areas vulnerable to flood damage. Lane said in the meeting that he was discouraged as to the solutions that were being offered.

After the flood, the TMA found four major damaged areas to their water line and banded temporary fixes on the four areas. Lane said to properly address the four areas they need to be replaced and excavated deeper or in an adjacent area. In documents submitted to FEMA after the flood, the TMA estimated $700,000 in damages.

“They can’t be in the same place,” Lane said of the vulnerable water lines on Tuesday.

Lane told the managers that if this isn’t properly addressed the TMA will just going to be back to square one after the next flood and will have to do the same repairs.

“Their explanation is that that is not how the program is set up,” Eric Casanave, an engineer for Stiffler McGraw said in the meeting. “They want to put it back to pre-flood conditions.”

“It’s a conflict between that and doing what would seem to a lot of people what makes the most sense,” Casanave continued. “The point is to stop the problem from happening again is not the aim of the FEMA program, theirs is to put it back the way it was before it got damaged.”

“So there’s all kinds of debate on which is the best way to go here. Everyone in this room would probably think putting the line somewhere else so it doesn’t get hit by a rock next time would make a lot of sense,” Casanave explained in the meeting. “They’re telling us that’s not the point of the program.”

The TMA will be reimbursed for what they spent to become operational immediately after the flood according to Lane, but aside from applying for very competitive flood mitigation funds, which the TMA plans to do, the funding for permanent fixes to the vulnerable areas is not apparent.

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