NEWS

Meeting on Williamson Road flooding gets mixed reviews

PAT FRIDGEN

A meeting Monday morning about flooding on Williamson Road left some attendees unhappy with the outcome, while others were pleased.

Rep. Todd Rock orchestrated the meeting between the many parties who were affected by recurrent flooding, or who could possibly offer a remedy. He had previously toured the road with residents and representatives of PennDOT. He then contacted various agencies to meet with Greencastle and Antrim Township to brainstorm ways to prevent, or at least reduce the severity of, flooding after heavy rains. The 90-minute meeting was held at the township office with approximately 25 people present, including Williamson neighbors, Greencastle engineer Keith Moore and council member James Farley, Antrim administrator Brad Graham and zoning officer Sylvia House, Antrim supervisors Rick Baer and James Byers, and representatives from PennDOT, Franklin County Soil Conservation District and DEP.

“We exchanged ideas,” said Rock. “It was a good talk. The issues are now on the table. We’ll see what happens.”

He reported that the most logical solution was for a comprehensive stormwater study to be conducted, to examine drainage from a wide area. All involved parties would have to agree, and someone would have to pay for the study. If a remedy was found, the next question  would be determining where the funding came from.

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James Nathan Skrabak, 655 Williamson Road, was not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. He said a suggestion for a major survey could be done if everyone paid a little toward the expenses.

“Greencastle and Antrim Township wouldn’t make any kind of commitment when this would next be on the agenda. We kept asking what the next step was and they kept trying to sweep it under the rug. Nothing came out of the meeting. It was a waste,” he said.

House said most of the housing along Williamson Road was built under old or non-existent ordinances, so basements stayed dry only under 10-year storm conditions. Now developments had to meet 25-year standards. However, last September’s rain fell under the 100-year storm event category.

“No amount of controls will fix that,” she said. “If a system handles a 10 or 25 year event, it is probably operating correctly.”

The information gathered would go to the Board of Supervisors, she continued, and it was up to them to decide whether to seek a comprehensive study, to add to what the township already knew from a 2006 report. A study “will be expensive and time-consuming.”

House cautioned that while the Williamson residents were concerned about their own properties, everyone was inundated with water last fall.

“As a township, we’re looking at everyone. Unfortunately, no matter what we do, they’re going to get flooded with major storms.”

Moore knew people didn’t have clarity on the terms people used for severe rains. He explained that FEMA no longer assigned a year value to the magnitude of a storm. It used a recurrence rate, reflecting the odds of a particular type of storm in any given year.

Under traditional thought, a 10-year storm meant 3.84 inches of rain within 24 hours. For 25 years it was 4.56 inches. And for 100 years, it meant 6.24 inches in 24 hours.

“It doesn’t mean such a storm occurs only once every hundred years,” Moore said. “There is a one percent chance that storm can happen each year.”

Just as that event took place in September, it could happen again in 2012. And on a smaller scale, if 2.88 inches fell in two hours, that would also meet the 100-year numbers. There was only that one percent chance of it occurring.

As for the Monday meeting, he walked away on a positive note.

“It was good. It gave the residents a chance to tell us their concerns. It will go to council to take the next step.”