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Traveling Rake Removes Debris from Filter

DANVILLE BOROUGH, PA - Sitting on the banks of the Susquehanna River, Danville Borough has seen its share of floods. Following heavy rains, the river surges and rushing waters threaten the town.

Sechler Run, a creek running through Danville, causes problems of its own during severe storms as backflow from the Susquehanna fills the creek. In 1988, a pumping station was installed to protect the town from the rising creek. And while the pumping station has been invaluable, it created problems of its own. A filter protects the pumps from debris, but keeping the filter from clogging presented a unique challenge.

“We used to have about 20 volunteers clearing the screen. It’s really physically demanding work, so after three or four pulls, you’d have to hand your rake off to the next guy,” said Danville Borough Secretary Tom Graham. “One year, we couldn’t keep up with the rising water. In seconds the water overflowed onto the street. Cars across the street flooded up to the windows before we could get the screen cleared again.”

“Clearing debris from the filter was very dangerous work. During an ice storm in 1996, the platform where workers stand to clear the debris was covered in ice. With rushing water below,” Graham said, “it was only a matter of time before a serious injury occurred.”

In 1998, with the help of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Danville applied for funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency. Danville received $149,650 from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grants Program to install a traveling rake that pulls debris off the filter and out of the water.

Now during storms, just one man is needed to operate the pumping station, loading collected debris into a truck.

John Hack, who operates the pumping station said, “If it wasn’t for the pumping station and rake during the most recent high water, Danville would have been wiped out. It’s been a godsend.”

Last updated June 3, 2020