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Flood levee

Published August 05. 2011 05:03PM

The Weissport flood levee has been in the news several times lately. One of the stories is that a borough council member was praised for the work he did trying to maintain it.

Another is a concern that debris piling against it might weaken it.

It's extremely important that the levee is maintained. Many older members in town remember Aug. 19, 1955, when the Lehigh River ran wild and flooded the town.

The entire community was evacuated. There was one death attributed to the flooding. Charles Whiteman, 50, returned home from work and saw the water rising above the first floor of his home. The fear that his family was trapped proved too much and he collapsed.

Weissport was spared a lot of the damage that occurred in other communities like Tamaqua, Stroudsburg, and Easton from excessive rains caused by Hurricanes Connie and then Diane.

The situation was serious enough that martial law was declared; that hopefully the situation is never repeated. Many of the structures in the community are likely weaker from age than they were nearly 60 years ago, meaning that if such flooding were to be repeated the resulting damages could be catastrophic.

One fortunate thing which has occurred since the flood of '55 is the construction of the Francis E. Walter Dam near White Haven. The dam holds back the water during high precipitation periods to prevent such flooding.

There isn't a guarantee that the levees wouldn't be pressed into service.

During recent heavy rains, the Lehigh River lapped against the levee at several locations.

Also, in the Midwest recently, high volumes of water were released from dams and allowed to flood smaller communities to spare higher population areas.

A third concern is that if something would happen to compromise the dam, the flood levee would be vital in saving Weissport.

That's why it is very important the levee is maintained and kept good condition.

Weissport is a very small community without a very large tax base, so hopefully state and federal officials will see the need to assist with such dam maintenance.

Ron Gower

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