Amid handshakes, smiles and stories of central Pennsylvania floods, the Baltimore District said farewell to Jim Brozena, the executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority, at an awards ceremony on Jan. 9.
Over two dozen program managers, engineers and water operations experts gathered in the District's executive office as Col. Richard Jordan, Commander and District Engineer, presented Brozena with the Commander's Award for Public Service. The award read, in part, "Mr. Brozena is recognized for his outstanding contributions and teamwork as the local sponsor representative for the Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project. This project raised approximately 15 miles of levee and floodwalls, modified 21 pump stations and relocated utilities while mitigating flood impacts to 53 communities in five counties."
The District Engineer also brought congratulations from Lloyd C. Caldwell, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers director of military programs. "I commend you on your outstanding service to the people of Luzerne County and support to our Civil Works mission," Caldwell wrote. "Most notably, as the Executive Director, you were responsible for the success of the Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project. The Corps reputation is built on excellent partnerships, and this is a perfect example."
The Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project is located along the Susquehanna River in the vicinity of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes overtopped the project and caused over $2.8 billion in damages. In January 2003, the Corps, in partnership with the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority and other stakeholders, finished the work to modify the project to provide Agnes-level protection which is equivalent to a river discharge of 318,500 cubic feet per second. In September 2011, Tropical Storm Lee passed over the area and caused the river to crest at 42.66 feet, 1.75 feet above the level from Hurricane Agnes. The system performed as designed and no overtopping occurred.
Brozena, who is also retiring after 33 years of service to the county, noted that he had worked with a dozen district engineers and seven program managers. "I was fortunate since they were all professionals and we developed a family-type relationship." Col Jordan also presented a Corps Castle, a personal coin from Maj Gen Michael Walsh, the Corps deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations, and the newly redesigned Baltimore District coin.