11 New Wilkes-Barre Fire Recruits Added

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — While Shirley Cook sat watching her grandson Jeremy being sworn in as one of the 11 new fire department recruits, she had tucked into her purse a black-and-white photo of her grandfather, who was a city fireman in the 1800s.

The photo showed a couple horse-drawn wagons outside the Northampton Street fire station. Cook, 85, of Scranton, pointed to one of the drivers, Reuben Daley, and said, “This would be his great-great-grandfather.”

Cook retrieved the photo from many she has at home and planned to make a copy for her grandson.

The equipment has since changed and so has the training that Jeremy Cook and the 10 others will undergo to be able to do their jobs of fighting fires, rescuing people from the Susquehanna River, delivering babies or facing whatever situation they’re presented with on the more than 10,000 runs annually.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1298535/11-new-W-B-fire-recruits-added

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Wilkes-Barre, Other Pennsylvania River Towns Hit Hard By Flood Insurance Rates

HARRISBURG, PA — Jeff King had put his house in Wilkes-Barre up for sale for $90,000 last year, put off by the city’s struggles with crime and the desire for a better school district for his four children, when he got a surprise: The prospective buyer discovered that her annual flood insurance premium would be $7,015, higher than 12 months of mortgage payments.

Even though President Barack Obama signed a law Friday to ease the sharpest premium increases for policyholders receiving subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Program, King is resigned to never selling the house, which is about a mile-and-a-half from the Susquehanna River. The writing, he said, is on the wall.

“Any educated buyer is going to stay clear from a home in the flood area,” King said.

Across Pennsylvania, with an estimated 86,000 miles of creeks, streams and rivers, the premium increases could deliver a gut punch to the state’s legion of old river cities and towns still struggling to recover from the loss of their industrial core.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/w-b-other-river-towns-hit-hard-by-rates-1.1655882

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Obama Declares Lancaster County An Emergency Area: What It Means

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With thousands still without power, President Barack Obama on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Lancaster and six other Pennsylvania counties.

The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring resources to the clean-up efforts.

While local officials were still unclear about the extent of federal aid on Thursday afternoon, a FEMA spokesman said the first tangible result will likely come to the county in the form of gas-powered generators.

Peter Herrick, of Philadelphia-based FEMA Region III, said federal emergency management officials were talking to their counterparts at the state level to determine what equipment is needed.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/obama-declares-lancaster-county-an-emergency-area-what-it-means/article_851cb56a-8f60-11e3-8d16-0017a43b2370.html

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Force Of Tropical Storm Lee Still Felt As 69 Houses Face Demolition In Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost two years after Tropical Storm Lee, the cleanup continues as houses damaged by flooding along the swollen Swatara Creek and later bought by the federal government are being demolished.

During the past few weeks, local municipalities have hired contractors to remove the houses, purchased through the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s Hazard Mitigation Program.  Buyouts from FEMA were determined by the cost of rebuilding the house and future flood insurance claims.

At least 69 houses have been targeted for demolition, almost all of them on land near or adjacent to Swatara Creek.  The total cost is $8 million with the municipalities carrying 3 percent, or $250,000, of the cost.

But the long-term effects of the demolition will be bourn by the localities, as the properties slip from tax rolls and elected leaders are left wondering what to do with flood-prone vacant lots.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/tropical_storm_lee_fema_buyout.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Reading Wants Altered Deal On Hiring Firefighters

The city, afraid that a $4 million grant to hire 30 more firefighters may force it to lay off many of them in two years, is asking federal officials to modify the deal to let it hire only 20.

But the costs and repercussions of either plan still aren’t fully known, and City Council on Monday again tabled an ordinance that would allow the city to hire either number.

“Council must understand what are the numbers,” Council President Francis G. Acosta said. “I want to see them in black and white. I’m not supporting this without the numbers.”

But council and the city must act soon; the deadline to accept the grant is March 8.  Council has no voting session before then, but said it would call a special meeting if necessary.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=455099

Scranton To Return Part Of ‘Free Money’ For Firefighters

After learning the hard way that closed fire stations can slow responses to fires, city officials last month celebrated an almost $8.2 million federal grant that would pay for recalling laid-off firefighters and hiring more.

Now, they plan to reject about a third of the money.

The grant was enough to pay for calling back 29 laid-off firefighters plus one on military leave and for adding 20 new firefighters – a total of 50 – for two years, but Mr. Doherty decided to decline the money for the new firefighters because the city could not afford to keep paying them after the two years and because the city would have to pay unemployment benefits when they were laid off.

It is unclear whether the city will be able to afford to keep all the other 29 after two years.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-to-return-part-of-free-money-for-firefighters-1.1331750

Reading Fire Department Gets Grant Of Nearly $1 Million

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

Image via Wikipedia

The Reading Fire Department has won a grant of nearly $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer announced Thursday at his third-in-three-days public meeting about reopening the 2012 budget.

The office of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called him late in the afternoon to announce the city had been approved for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant of $999,781, Spencer told about 50 people at the Historical Society of Berks County, 940 Centre Ave.

He said he was told it was by far the largest of 10 grants totaling $1.56 million awarded to fire departments in the state. Casey is a Scranton Democrat.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=360291

Montgomery County Residents Eligible For FEMA Assistance After Irene

Montgomery County residents are eligible to receive Individual Assistance for damage that occurred as a result of Hurricane Irene now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has added the County to its Major Disaster Declaration.

Uninsured and under-insured homeowners, renters and businesses are eligible to receive grants for temporary housing, home repair, home replacement and permanent housing construction…

Click here for details: http://www.timesherald.com/articles/2011/09/14/news/doc4e70f50da6a8b085684529.txt


Susquehanna River Reaches 38.82 Feet In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Image via Wikipedia

The Susquehanna River had topped out at 38.82 feet in Wilkes-Barre just before 1 a.m. this morning.  By 3:30 a.m. the National Weather Service declared the river had crested just under 39 feet.  An earlier prediction was for a crest of 41 feet.

Unprotected areas like West Pittston, Jenkins Township, West Nanticoke and Shickshinny experienced major flooding.

In Duryea there was a partial levee breach that sent 200 people from their homes to an emergency shelter at Sacred Heart Church Thursday evening.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor, Tom Leighton has just issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Brookside Section of the city due to rising water on the streets.

President Obama Signs Emergency Declaration For Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Image via Wikipedia

The POTUS signed an emergency declaration for Pennsylvania due to conditions from Tropical Storm Lee.  The following counties were listed: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wyoming, and York.

FEMA will begin working with state and local officials to provide federal assistance to flood victims.  The start date of the emergency declaration is September 3, 2011.

Obama Declares Pennsylvania Disaster Area After Irene

Today, President Obama agreed with Governor Corbett’s request and declared Pennsylvania a disaster area.  This declaration opens up much-needed federal aid for our state!

Governor Corbett declared 11 counties disaster areas after Irene sloshed through Eastern Pennsylvania causing flooding and wind damage in its wake.  The 11 counties are Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Wyoming and Wayne.

This is great news for municipalities hit with unexpected storm related expenses.