The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will be performing a risk assessment for the Plymouth and the Wilkes-Barre to Hanover Township levee systems as requested in October 2019 by the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority. This effort will be completed through the Planning Assistance to States (PAS) program in accordance with Section 3014(b) of the Water Resources Development Act of 2014. The risk assessment is estimated to take up to two (2) years to complete. The cost of the work will be split 50/50 between the USACE and the Authority.
In 2014/2015, the USACE completed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) certification reports for both systems that recommended FEMA not accredit the systems due to a lack of freeboard. The Kingston to Exeter levee system was able to be accredited. Freeboard is extra vertical feet of levee height above the 100-year flood level of risk reduction. Accreditation means that the levee is found to reduce risk for a 100-year flood event, and the improved properties with mortgages located behind the levee are likely to not have to pay mandatory flood insurance.
New guidance published in July 2019 through the USACE Engineering and Construction (EC) Bulletin 2019-11 Transition Guidance for Levee System Evaluations for the National Flood Insurance Program, directs the USACE to certify levees for FEMA accreditation based on its own risk-based methodology rather than using FEMA’s process. Risk assessments take into account the flood history and current flood risk in the area, the condition of the levee system, and the consequences behind the levee if it were to overtop or break during a flood (population, critical infrastructure, etc.).