Having already committed $16 million, the federal government is contributing an additional $2.5 million to elevate or otherwise flood-proof homes and businesses along the Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy announced today.
Since 2000, about 200 houses in high-risk zones on the 50-mile waterway, from Wrightstown south to the Delaware River at Bensalem, have been torn down or lifted onto concrete stilts and towering foundations. An additional 30 to 50 "still need our attention," said James F. Cawley, chairman of the Bucks County Commissioners.
Murphy, a Democrat whose district includes Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, was joined creekside in Middletown Township by county officials and residents for the announcement. The allocation - part of the fiscal 2008 Agriculture Appropriations Bill - was the result of a bipartisan effort he led with U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas.
Murphy said the "critical resources" would help ensure "peace of mind when the rain starts and water levels rise."
The Neshaminy flood-mitigation program, which extends through seven communities, is thought to be the largest elevation project of its kind, and a national model. Cawley noted that it has come at a minimal cost to county taxpayers - less than $2 million.
The elevation process is time-consuming - a typical lift takes two months - and costly, averaging $175,000. Therefore, Cawley said, there is no deadline for completion.
In the program's early stages, the county bought and demolished some structures vulnerable to flooding. But given the high price of Bucks County real estate, officials have decided that elevation is more economically feasible.
Either way, Cawley said, "you most certainly are taking them completely out of harm's way."