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Corrective action must be taken

Published October 08. 2011 09:01AM

Dear Editor,

On Friday, Sept. 23, 1011, the residents of the Meadow Avenue section of Hometown, like many others in the area, suffered from the effects of a flash flood. Torrential rain flowed down the streets and pooled at four catch basins two on either side of Grant Street and two on either side of Sunset Street, both fronting SR309 in Hometown.

These four catch basins are commonly problematic, SR309 rises higher than the grates over the basin, so the water cannot bypass this area; it must exit down into the storm drains. This becomes exacerbated since all four grates over the catch basons are prone to being clogged, especially with leaves and twigs in the Autumn and slush in the Winter.

That, at least partially, is what caused a major problem that Friday.

As storm water backed up and small lakes formed, residents scrambled to protect their homes. Making the situation worse, because of the poor condition of the sanitary sewer and the ongoing breach of asphalt from the dug up streets, raw sewage was mixed with storm water pouring into basements.

The house at the end of the line, 225 Claremont Avenue, had five pumps in the basement, but the water was rising. A member of the American Hose Company of Tamaqua stood in thigh deep water, struggling to clear debris from the grate on the south side of Grant Street and Claremont Avenue.

Two members of the Rush Township road crew, one the foreman, sat in their truck on Grant Street watching the water rise. When the man trying to clear the catch basin grate asked for help from the two township employees, he was told, "They don't pay me enough." The volunteer was left on his own.

After several calls to 9-1-1 referencing the high water on SR309, the first responder was the Quakake Fire Department. They immediately offered an additional pump for the basement at 225 Claremont, where the water was rising on the already raised washer, dryer, freezer and furnace. That pump did the trick and kept up with the in-flow.

Meanwhile, the Hometown Fire Department arrived and blocked the right southbound lane of SR309 to keep cars out of the rising water on the highway. That is when the exhausted volunteer from the American Hose Company asked the Hometown Fire Company fire fighters to pump water from the overflowing storm drains to the east side of SR309, where the drains were flowing. Once the fire fighters started to drive the water across SR309, headway was made against the flow.

Around the time that TIMES NEWS photographer Andrew Leibenguth arrived, the township workers left their truck. One of them stood in the bucket of a front end loader and poked a stick through the water toward the drain grate.

Hopefully, that Friday will be used as a training exercise and immediate corrective action will be taken if this condition occurs again. The township work force must take responsibility for keeping storm grates clear. If it isn't their job, whose job is it?

If they think they aren't getting paid enough to do their jobs, perhaps they should allow someone who would do the job to step in and relieve them of their burden.

The Hometown Fire Company, like so many in the area, is made up of volunteers who work hard to protect the residents and property of Rush Township. If Friday can be viewed as a training exercise, a new protocol is in place for the fire company to respond and immediately provide residents relief from this all too common situation.

The quick response of the Quakake Fire Company and Rescue Squad is greatly appreciated! Your help and concern saved what could have been disasterous consequences.

Paul Gimbel


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