Governor Wolf: Restore Pennsylvania Will Help North East’s 130-Year-Old Flood Problem

March 25, 2019

North East, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today toured the borough of North East in Erie County to see first-hand how Baker Creek has caused decades of flooding, deterioration and frustration for borough residents and businesses, and to discuss how his Restore Pennsylvania plan will help solve this 130-year-old flood problem.

“It’s not unreasonable for North East to want help solving a problem that’s plagued the borough for more than a century,” Gov. Wolf said. “What was a solution to the need for water for fire suppression in the late 1800s is no longer a need, it’s a nuisance, and my Restore Pennsylvania plan can help the borough solve what has been a problem for far too long.”

North East’s Baker Creek runs under much of the borough’s downtown and is affecting the structural integrity of dozens of homes and businesses. When the creek floods, foundations deteriorate further, and businesses and homeowners are faced with burdensome costs to repair flooding damage.

“Erie County is proud to be the first county in the commonwealth to endorse Governor Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania initiative,” Kathy Dahlkemper, Eric County executive said. “Restore Pennsylvania will dovetail with the many revitalization efforts occurring in Erie County, whether it is broadband expansion, neighborhood blight or flooding mitigation. I commend Governor Wolf for his ongoing efforts to help restore Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and make us competitive in this global economy.”

Governor Wolf recently proposed Restore Pennsylvania to provide funding to help towns and cities prepare for flooding and severe weather, upgrade flood walls and levees, replace high-hazard dams, and conduct stream restoration and maintenance.

Restore Pennsylvania will also establish a disaster relief trust fund to assist individuals who suffer losses that are not compensated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other programs.

The plan is an ambitious infrastructure initiative funded by the monetization of a commonsense severance tax. Restore Pennsylvania will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in significant high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth to help catapult Pennsylvania ahead of every state in the country in terms of technology, development, and infrastructure.

Encompassing new and expanded programs to address five priority infrastructure areas including high speed internet access, storm preparedness and disaster recovery, downstream manufacturing, business development, and energy infrastructure, demolition, revitalization, and renewal, and transportation capital projects, Restore Pennsylvania projects will be driven by local input about community needs.

Projects identified by local stakeholders will be evaluated through a competitive process to ensure that high priority, high impact projects are funded and needs across Pennsylvania are met.

“Communities across the commonwealth are faced with many challenges,” Patrick Gehrlein, North East borough manager, said. “Often declining tax bases, older housing stock, increases in operational expenses and burdensome long-term debt top the list. Seldom are communities prepared to address the unfunded expenses caused by blighted properties in their residential and commercial districts, lack of accessible connectivity, aging infrastructure and the hidden cost of flooding and damage due to natural disasters. North East Borough has worked diligently to find reasonable solutions for these issues, but local government can only do so much with limited resources. We welcome Governor Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania initiative as a necessary tool to begin to tackle these hidden issues plaguing our community.”

View the full Restore Pennsylvania plan.

“Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding for flood prevention that will protect against severe weather and save homes and businesses in flood prone areas across the state, including North East,” Gov. Wolf said.

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