WEST SALEM TOWNSHIP – With two bridges wiped out in last week’s floods, West Salem Township supervisors voted Monday to declare a disaster emergency.
“We did it to speed things up for our two bridges,’’ Ken Sherbondy, township supervisor said of getting two of its heavily damaged bridges replaced. The vote was taken at the supervisor’s regular Monday meeting.
Under state law, a disaster emergency declaration allows a municipality to bypass regulations in seeking bids to restore essential services or for safety reasons. No formal requests have been made yet to seek state funds to replace the bridges, he said.
“We’re still cleaning up,’’ Sherbondy said.
The two bridges, washed out by flooding on June 5, are located on South Barry Road. West Salem Township officials have closed the road indefinitely until the bridges are replaced, Sherbondy said.
County and local state representatives have said it’s unlikely that the state or federal governments would foot the bill for local flood damages. Before that could happen, the state or federal governments would have to issue a disaster declaration for the communities.
Jason Urey, Greenville’s borough manager, said there is little chance the area sustained enough damage to access federal or state aid.
The storm damaged more than a dozen alleys and streets in Greenville. No figure on the total cost of the damages has been made yet and Urey said borough officials have not yet decided whether to issue their own disaster declaration.
He acknowledged his nerves were nearly shot when Greenville was subjected to a fierce 20-minute downpour Monday afternoon.
“If it had rained like that for another 10 to 20 minutes we would have had another disaster,’’ he said.
Any hopes of PennDOT taking over damaged roads, bridges and culverts likely isn’t in the cards, said state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7, Hermitage.
“I’m not aware of PennDOT taking over local roads,’’ Longietti said. “I am aware of them doing the opposite now. They have a program to turn state roads over to local municipalities.’’