Army Corps responds to call for flooding assistance

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has responded to a call for flood mitigation help from Cranberry Township and is offering some options for assistance.

The township was hit hard by a July 19 flash flood that caused more than $1.2 million in damages on Sage Run and Lower Two Mile Run.

In mid-August, the township supervisors contacted the federal agency to help find possible solutions to the devastating floods that have occurred with increasing regularity on both streams.

Sage Run is located along Riverside Drive, and Lower Two Mile Run flows along Deep Hollow Road.

The request to the Army Corps was backed by the Venango County emergency management office, state Sen. Scott Hutchinson and Congressman Glenn Thompson.

Township manager Chad Findlay told the supervisors at a meeting Thursday that Elliott Porter, chief of plan formation and economics with the Army Corps office in Pittsburgh, had responded to their concerns.

“He sent some fact sheets about the Army Corps programs and told me how to ask for assistance,” Findlay said after the meeting. “And they visited both Deep Hollow and Riverside Drive with me to see what happened.”

Information in the correspondence to Findlay included:

– The 1974 Water Resources Development Act provides authority for the Army Corps to provide planning assistance to local governments. That assistance includes offering technical planning expertise for “broad, comprehensive water resources planning.”

Among the topics that would be studied are flood damage reduction, erosion, fish and wildlife and other environmental resources.

The cost would be a 50-50 share with the federal government paying half and non-federal funds or in-kind services paying the remainder.

– The Flood Control Act of 1960 is another entity that can provide technical services and planning guidance needed to “support effective flood plain management.”

“The purpose of the program is to provide knowledge to the public about flood hazards and actions that can be taken to reduce flood risk,” noted the Army Corps. The federally funded program focuses on site-specific data on “obstructions to flood flows, flood formation and timing, flood depths, floodwater velocities and … duration and frequency of flooding.”

Information on present and future floodplain areas as well as various remedial measures can be developed through the program.

– Another section of the Flood Control Act deals with emergency stream bank protection and gives authority to the Corps to “plan and construct emergency stream bank and shoreline protection projects” to protect bridges, highways, water and sewer lines and non-profit public facilities such as churches and schools.

After a municipality requests federal assistance, the Corps conducts a feasibility study that will define the problem and identify solutions.

Once the cost estimate is done, funding options are then explored to pay for the study (if over $100,000, shared equally by the federal government and local municipality) as well as the actual redemption work.

The construction expenses are shared, with the local municipality paying a minimum of 35 percent and the federal government the rest.

In the letter to Findlay, the Army Corps ‘ Porter recommended the flood plain management services program “as it is not cost-shared (but) full federal funding.” It essentially would provide technical services and planning guidance.

On Thursday, Findlay said the Army Corps spokesman also said the Soil Conservation District agency in Venango County “has a role to play, too” in providing assistance in flood mitigation projects.

Findlay, advising supervisors Harold Best, Fred Buckholtz and Jerry Brosius that they should consider the Army Corps options at an upcoming meeting, said he would contact the Soil Conservation District to identify what type of assistance it can offer.

In other matters Thursday, township zoning officer Ben Breniman told the supervisors that nine building permits were filed in the township last month. The estimated construction costs are $479,215 with the “majority being two new houses,” said Breniman.

A hearing to consider a request from GBT Realty Corp. to build a retail store at the intersection of Hill City Road and Route 257 will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, at the township building.

Breniman said the company is eyeing the construction of a 7,000-square-foot retail store at the site. The location is in an A-1 conservation district and would require a conditional use designation.

Breniman said the business would be affiliated with “a national franchise” but noted he has not been notified as to what outlet is being considered.

The township will hold a scrap metal drop-off at the township building from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 26.

Eleanor Hrinya, a longtime advocate for public libraries,encouraged the supervisors that as they consider items in the 2020 township budget, “to remember the library.”

At present, the township reimburses residents for a $30 per household library card, an annual fee charged by the Oil Region Library Association for full library services.