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Sliding Flood Walls Help Protect Danville Borough from Flooding

DANVILLE BOROUGH, PA - This community is no stranger to flooding. Located on the bank of the Susquehanna River, the town floods regularly during major rain events. Two areas, on the east and west edges of town, are particularly susceptible to flooding.

As Danville Borough Secretary Tom Graham explained, “Every time there was a heavy rain, our volunteer firefighters and the kids on the football team would spend hours piling sandbags in vulnerable spots.”

Mr. Graham and other Danville community leaders sought a better way to protect the town. Danville developed a flood mitigation project and submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to apply for funds from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to construct sliding flood walls at vulnerable points in the town. Following a major disaster declaration, the HMGP funds up to 75 percent of the eligible costs of a project that will reduce or eliminate damages from future natural hazard events.

Danville Borough received $350,000 in HMGP funds in 1999, and the flood walls were completed in 2003. Protecting the town from flooding once took dozens of man-hours, but now takes less than 20 minutes. The walls are pulled into place with a battery-powered winch. Water that would have threatened homes is now diverted onto a football field.

According to Mr. Graham, “These flood walls are invaluable. With seven sites that are vulnerable, these walls help our volunteer firefighters protect the town. And they help protect our volunteers from some dangerous and difficult work.”

Danville City Councilman Collins Stump agrees: “FEMA has protected our town. No question.”

Last updated June 3, 2020