The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in coordination with the Luzerne County Flood Authority, conducted a test installation of the Wyoming Valley’s post and panel system at the Market Street Bridge and the Luzerne County Court House Friday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 29.
The trial installation marked one of the final repairs to the Wyoming Valley Levee System since the project experienced unprecedented water levels during Tropical Storm Lee in Sept. 2011.
“This post and panel system really protects the communities throughout the Wyoming Valley System,” said Project Manager Rolando Sanidad. “It was imperative that this work gets done.”
The post and panel system consists of 28 I-beams and 90 aluminum panels. The I-beams are inserted into a socket located in the roadway and surrounding sidewalks, and between each I-beam three panels are inserted to form a wall. The panels sit atop foam gaskets that provide the final seal to prevent leakage. When in place, the post and panel system stands nearly 12 feet tall.
“During Tropical Storm Lee the pressure of the water damaged many of the foam gaskets and washed them away, causing seepage,” Sanidad said. “We have refabricated and replaced the foam gaskets and the test installation was conducted to ensure that the system will perform as designed if the region is impacted by another high water event. It’s been a great success.”
Replacement of the foam gaskets was not the only repair to the Wyoming Valley Levee System following Tropical Storm Lee. Additional work included replacement of the pump station sluice gates, pump repairs, concrete floodwall repair, sheetpile installation, installation of pressure relief wells, repairing sand boils and sinkholes adjacent to the landside levee toe, drainage pipe repair and/or replacement, and rip rap placement. All repairs are complete except for the sluice gates and pump repairs which are expected to be completed in January 2014.
All work was authorized under Public Law 84-99 which gives the Corps the legal authority to conduct emergency response and provide repair work when a levee system is damaged during a flood event.
“The first thing people generally think of under PL 84-99 is our emergency response role,” Emergency Management Chief Maria de la Torre said. “But it also gives the Corps the authority to supplement local efforts on making repairs to projects that are damaged during high water events.”
Requirements for assistance in the rehabilitation of flood damage reduction projects includes the project maintaining an “active” status in the Corps’ Rehabilitation and Inspection Program, the potentially eligible damage has been caused by a recent high water event, repairs are beyond normal operations and maintenance activities, and exceed a minimum $15,000 construction cost.
Following Tropical Storm Lee, fourteen flood risk management projects were identified to have eligible damages in need of repairs including Athens, Pa.; Danville, Pa.; Duryea, Pa.; Lebanon, Pa.; Plymouth, Pa.; Sayre, Pa; Wyoming Valley, Pa.; Bainbridge, N.Y.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Greene, N.Y.; and Endicott/Johnson City/Vestal, N.Y. To date, repairs on all projects have been completed with the exception of Wyoming Valley and Danville, and some additional actions remain for Vestal and Sayre.
“We are currently finishing up in Wyoming Valley and the final repairs should be done by the end of the month,” Program Manager Mark Chalecki said. “Vestal should be complete in February, with Danville and Sayre on pace for completion this summer.”
The authority PL 84-99 provides the Corps is vitally important to the many residents and businesses that live along the Susquehanna River Basin.
“The repair work is vitally important so that the projects can continue to function as designed and continue to protect these communities and manage risk when faced with a significant storm.”