Aug. 11--Recent correspondence with the Federal Emergency Management Agency has West Pittston council President Barry Hosier worried.
Hosier said the borough is making progress toward meeting its goals for flood plain management, but is concerned that FEMA -- which threatened the riverside community last month with probationary status in the National Flood Insurance Program if it failed to act -- might still place the borough on probation if it doesn't do enough.
FEMA has told the borough that "as long as we were demonstrating significant progress and advancements, the possibility of probation would become a more remote reality," solicitor Mark Bufalino said.
But then Friday FEMA sent out a news release saying that the borough will be put on probation if it does not comply with FEMA regulations by Oct. 1.
FEMA spokesman Peter Herrick Jr. said the notice is simply a reminder for West Pittston. The situation remains the same as it was earlier in the summer -- the borough could be on probation if it doesn't make substantial progress on a corrective action plan, he said. FEMA will decide after Oct. 1 if the borough has met its requirements.
"If all of the identified deficiencies aren't remedied, then FEMA must put the borough on probation," Herrick wrote. "FEMA will continue to work with the borough as they make efforts to remedy the deficiencies. To your question about what it looks like will happen, a prediction cannot be made on any potential time line."
At a meeting this week, borough council replaced former code enforcement officer and flood plain manager Dominck Pepe with William O'Donnell, who has worked as a flood plain manager in Maine, Hosier said. Training a flood plain manager was one of six goals West Pittston had to meet as part of its corrective action plan. The borough has also drafted a new flood plain ordinance, which borough council could vote on in September, and gave notice about the extent of damage to 159 property owners, Bufalino said.
U.S. Sen.Bob Casey has sent a letter to a FEMA saying the agency should support the borough's efforts to meet the agency's requirements.
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