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FEMA may add 234 city structures to 'high-hazard' flood zone

SHAMOKIN — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) intends to add 234 structures in the city to its revised “high-hazard” flood zone map.

Jeff Hager, the city’s emergency management coordinator, informed council at its workshop Wednesday that an estimated 325 structures, according to FEMA, will be inundated by a 100-year flood.

A preliminary flood insurance rate map (FIRM) was created to illustrate the extent of flood zones in the city. Areas affected by the proposed revisions include the Fifth Ward and sections of West Arch, West Walnut and North Second streets.

FEMA states in a handout provided by Hager that it is the responsibility of the community to notify property owners and other stakeholders that they will be impacted by the map changes.

FEMA warned that adopting a new FIRM may change the National Flood Insurance Program policy rating for both present and future policyholders.

In response to Mayor John Brown asking how the proposed maps could affect potential development, Hager said it is his understanding that insurance companies would contact policyholders.

Police Chief Darwin Tobias III clarified that people with mortgages for properties within flood zones are required to carry flood insurance.

Hager told council he attended a July community and coordination and outreach meeting, during which officials had the opportunity to examine preliminary flood insurance study (FIS) and FIRM maps, discuss the impacts of the proposed changes and review the process for adopting the new maps.

He said the changes in flood zones are due to FEMA raising the base-flood elevation of the Susquehanna River by 2 feet.

Hager said anyone may file an appeal but stressed it must be supported by scientific and technical data that show better methodologies, assumptions or data exist.

FEMA describes an appeal as a formal objection to the addition or modification of preliminary base-flood elevations, flood zone boundaries and regulatory floodway boundaries.

FEMA requires appeals to be submitted by the community’s “chief executive officer” during the 90-day regulatory appeal period, which commences with the second publication notice of the proposed determination published in the Federal Register.

Hager was unsure when the appeal process began but said further information can be obtained at Shamokin City Hall or at www.floodsmart.gov.


ROB NAYLOR/STAFF PHOTOS  

The Ann Kerstetter Band plays their rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” as rainy conditions dissipated and the sun returned during Thursday’s Trevorton Summer Concert Series held at the Zerbe Township Recreation Area.


 

Volunteers at St. Patrick’s Church in Trevorton work together to put up a tent in prepartion for it’s annual block party taking place today and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.


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PennDOT crews surveying Commerce Street to determine condition

SHAMOKIN — Southbound traffic on Route 61 may be detoured onto Commerce Street — but not until at least 2030.

Crews are in the field surveying Commerce Street and adjoining properties to determine what improvements need to be done to make it a viable detour route, according to Dave Thompson, community relations coordinator.

Thompson said in about 10 years, Route 61 (Sunbury Street) will undergo major reconstruction, which will involve removing the pavement structure from curb to curb, updating drainage and relocating utilities, if necessary.

“We are planning on opening bids for this project in 2030 or later,” Thompson said. “PennDOT is in the very early stages of developing the design for the project.”

He said project details will be discussed at a public meeting closer to the time of construction.

He stressed that PennDOT is not planning on widening the roadway nor displace residents or businesses as part of the project.

“However, PennDOT may need to acquire small slivers of property to complete curb and sidewalk work along Sunbury and Commerce streets,” he noted.

According to Donna Alston, public relations for Aqua America, the utility company intends to piggyback off PennDOT’s traffic plan to construct a main replacement.

In the meaintime, Aqua will replace about 900 feet of old pipe on Commerce Street, between Sunbury and Shamokin streets.

“Although there is not a specific start date yet, it will likely begin in the next few weeks or sooner,” Alston said.

PennDOT also plans to mill and resurface Route 61 from the Lancaster Switch (Ranshaw) to the Cameron Bridge.

The work is listed is listed as two separate projects, both with an anticipated let date of Jan. 14, 2021, and a total cost of $1.6 million.


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Accurate census means more money for community

SHAMOKIN — The United States Census 2020 is soon upon us and households across the nation, including here in Northumberland County, will be receiving census invitations via mail, starting March 12.

But why is it important?

Michael D. Burger, a partnership specialist of the Philadelphia Regional Census Center, shared his insight on this matter.

“The census is a constitutionally-required activity every 10 years,” said Burger.

“It’s a headcount, which then directly is related to the apportionment and redistricting for U.S. House of Representatives,” he said.

Burger noted that the secondary purpose of the census is for allocation of monies that are discretionary within the federal budget.

“The last fiscal year (2019), those monies amounted to $675 billion dollars,” said Burger. “When those federal funds go through federal budgeting process, the money will then be earmarked for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

Burger explained that those CDBG funds can then be used for construction of public facilities and improvements (such as water, sewer, and other utilities, street paving, and sidewalks), public services, economic development, housing, etc.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is for any community, the more accurate the census, the more accurate the money to be directed toward beneficial projects for that community.

Timothy Nebel will be the Partnership Specialist for Northumberland County. He also will be dealing with Columbia, Montour, Union and Snyder Counties.

Burger noted that for the general public, the census will be conducted via mail starting approximately March 12.

Upon receiving a census invitation via mail, there are three ways to respond. The first is simply filling out the requested information in the paper questionnaire and mailing it to the address noted. The second is responding via telephone, answering specific prompts in order to document your information. Lastly, one can respond via the Internet, where a secure web page and data transfer will be available. Most areas of the country are likely to respond online

The collection of census data usually takes about a month, according to Burger, who added that Census Day takes place on April 1, 2020.

Burger reiterated the importance and ease of taking part in the census.

“It’s a civic responsibility, it’s easy, safe, secure and absolutely benefits each respective community,” he said.