U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced a $15 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Columbia County, Pennsylvania, to help build control systems that will help protect vital business infrastructure in Bloomsburg from floods. The grant announcement was applauded by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey, Bob Casey and Rep. Lou Barletta who worked with the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to support the grant. Bloomsburg was severely impacted by flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.
"Since being sworn into office, I've been meeting and talking with local officials in Columbia County to address the town's flood concerns," U.S. Senator Pat Toomey said. "In 2011, I held a town hall in Bloomsburg to make progress on this issue, and I am so glad the U.S. Economic Development Administration has decided to fund this important project. This grant will go a long way toward keeping jobs in Pennsylvania and protecting the citizens of Columbia County."
"Today's announcement should ensure that good paying jobs remain in Columbia County. Bloomsburg has a critical need for flood protection and I'm pleased that this investment will help safeguard key businesses in Bloomsburg from the risks of flooding," U.S. Senator Casey said. "I was glad to work in a bipartisan effort to urge the Administration to commit to this initiative and look forward to working with the community to complete this important project in a timely manner."
"We have all seen the extent of natural disasters and what they can mean to a local community. There is no describing the toll on human lives and personal devastation. Obviously, it can impact economic development and cost jobs, never mind the untold hours that go into dealing with such an ordeal. This flood wall is an enormous protection for Bloomsburg, not only protecting nearly 1,000 jobs, but also safeguarding the community. I saw the devastation in person, and I know that local leaders have been waiting for assistance for many years. For this to finally be happening is a great thing for our community," Rep. Barletta said.
"Protecting and improving the infrastructure that is critical to our businesses is a top priority for the Obama administration," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. "By working with local organizations to fund this project, EDA and the Department of Commerce are helping businesses in Bloomsburg and the surrounding areas save jobs and grow."
Tropical Storm Lee resulted in a record crest of 32.7 feet on the Susquehanna River, leaving approximately one-third of Bloomsburg underwater. The EDA project will include construction of flood protection systems at two separate industrial sites that are adjacent to the Susquehanna River. The first includes construction of a 5,300-foot flood wall, relocation of about 2,100 feet of Snyder Run, a new pump station, and a stormwater and groundwater conveyance and collection system. The second site includes construction of a 3,000-foot flood wall, a sewage pump station, and relocation of utilities. The project will support the retention of 900 jobs, according to grantee estimates.
This project is part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support. Within the context of the administration's National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of leveraging existing resources and authorities to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.