HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Maclay Street area near the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg has always been prone to flooding. It happened again over the past weekend due to heavy rain.
City officials said there are several plans for projects at both the city and county level to prevent the flooding, but those will take years. In the meantime, officials said the flooding is here to stay.
The main issue is Paxton Creek. When the city sees a hard and steady downpour, the creek rises and can quickly overwhelm the city’s sewer system.
“That’s one of the low spots in the city,” Harrisburg Public Works Director David West said. “Once it overwhelms the system, it’s lost until the system catches back up.”
West said it is not just the amount of rain that matters, but how hard and how fast it comes.
While Paxton Creek flooding has always been a problem, it is getting worse.
“The number of times we’ve had to close Maclay Street continues to rise on an annual basis,” Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline said.
Enterline said Wildwood Lake, where the creek starts, has seen a build-up of sediment. That means when it rains, the lake cannot hold as much water, which leads to it being sent into the creek.
“The capacity that that lake can carry went from about 4 feet down to only 3 inches,” Enterline said.
Enterline said the city and county are working on getting funding for several projects, including dredging Wildwood Lake and improving the flow of Paxton Creek into the Susquehanna River.
In the meantime, officials say the flooding is something residents will have to live with.
“Unfortunately, these projects are not short-term, short-duration projects. These are long-term, long-time planning, long-time construction projects that are going to take five to 10 years to get to fruition. In the meantime, unfortunately, we’re going to have to deal with this flooding that we see,” Chief Enterline said.
With flooding still a problem for the foreseeable future, officials are reminding people to stay away when it happens.
“Don’t go through those barricades, it puts the emergency responders in a precarious situation, they have to come rescue you out of those waters,” Enterline said.
Officials said the city and the county have several grant applications out for funding for these projects. The city just received a planning grant to start working on Paxton Creek.