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Maplevale and Meadow Drive flood victims keep the pressure on Lower Makefield


After sustaining some of the worst flooding in decades on July 15, residents of Lower Makefield's Maplevale and Meadow Drive neighborhood again pressed the Lower Makefield board of supervisors for help at the Wednesday meeting.

During discussion on the matter that took up more than two hours, Maplevale Drive resident Greg Luzeckyj said people in the neighborhoods need financial and other help with the damage and also short- and long-term plans of action to prevent such events in the future.

Damage inflicted in the neighborhoods by about six inches of rain that fell in two hours July 15 included a burst storm pipe that created a huge sinkhole. Seven people in neighboring Upper Makefield died as the result of the July 15 flash flooding.

"I need you to keep us safe, keep people safe," Luzeckyj said. "You have the money. Get it out of spots it doesn't belong and put it in the right spot. I don't need more soccer fields, a Wegmans or a dog park. You need to step on the gas with this."

Lower Makefield Public Works Director Derek Fuller, Engineer Isaac Kessler and other officials said crews are ready to go and are just awaiting an emergency permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to proceed with repairs including replacement of the damaged storm pipe, installation of another pipe and other measures. They indicated they should have the permit within a week.

In addition, the supervisors voted unanimously to proceed as quickly as possible with Phase Two of a stormwater management project in the neighborhoods that will include installation of additional inlets and other measures. Board members and other township officials added they will take an exhaustive look at long-term measures, including consideration of more ordinances that will aid stormwater management in the township.

The board also unanimously voted to extend the township's emergency declaration by seven more days to better facilitate available state and federal aid to help with the situation.

"This board agrees we have to take a more comprehensive look at everything we can look at," Supervisor Suzanne Blundi said.

"There was an ongoing flood mitigation project that wasn't finished," board Chairman Fredric Weiss added. "The rain came and the project didn't work because it wasn't finished. Everyone on the board takes the problem very seriously. We're working every day to develop a plan."

Weiss said the township will set up a weekly Zoom meeting with residents of the neighborhoods to keep them updated on progress of both short- and long-term projects to mitigate the flooding problem.

"We're working as hard as we can," township Manager David Kratzer said. "We met with Congressman (Brian) Fitzpatrick today (Wednesday) to get a picture of all the federal resources that are available. We are working to develop the plan you are talking about. We are working as hard as we can through all the issues."

Kessler, of Remington & Vernick Engineers, recently replaced Andy Pockl of the same firm as Lower Makefield's regular township engineer. Kratzer said the move "was not specifically related" to the problems in the Maplevale and Meadow Drive neighborhoods.

The neighborhood’s residents jammed the July 19 supervisors meeting and, disappointed with the response they received from township officials, gathered for a July 22 strategy and needs assessment meeting in front of their homes.

Victims took turns speaking, bringing up items that needed to be addressed to restore their homes to the state they once knew and to prevent the past from happening again.

“We’ll get this going, and we’ll get it right until it’s safe for us to live here,” said April Bollwage-Cloer in kicking off the discussion.

Friends and other community members also came to show their support. They offered suggestions for requesting help from higher-level officials, obtaining furniture to replace ruined items, tapping local assistance agencies, and continuing to make noise.

“We’re just normal people. We don’t want to have to do this, but we have to,” Bollwage-Cloer said.

Present at the meeting was Lower Makefield Township Supervisor Daniel Greiner.

But the neighbors’ said faith in their township’s leaders has been greatly diminished due to their belief that their concerns were not properly managed in the past.

The flood victims say they’ve also been dealing with scam callers looking to take advantage of them. State Rep. Perry Warren even called a number of the residents to warn them against interacting with such callers.

However, some community members are stepping up in positive ways. A representative of Saint Ignatius Church attended the meeting to inform the neighbors that the church has contacted government officials and started an emergency fund for the families.

Those who wish to help can donate by check, online at the church’s website, or scan a QR code that church representatives are distributing to the public. Donors will get tax receipts, church officials said.

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