Lancaster residents prepare for possible floodwaters amid ancient stormwater system


LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Slowly but surely, the city of Lancaster prepares for the impending storm. Crews are making their final rounds, clearing off debris and litter from as many as 2,400 storm grates in the city. But so are some homeowners who still haven’t recovered from the last one. 

“I have mud and everything in the basement right now. I’m in the process of cleaning and tossing stuff that got ruined,” Luz Diaz, a Lancaster resident said.

Diaz is worried it might happen again. She lives near the Conestoga River, an area in Lancaster that often sees massive floods. Neighbors there are constantly on edge.  

“Any time they say thunderstorms and severe storms and stuff like that everybody goes like let’s see what’s going to happen and everybody is, of course, concerned about whether it’s going to get in my basement, into the neighbor’s basement, everybody’s basement,” Diaz added.

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With a historic city, come historic problems. Most of the piping in the city was built by veterans. Civil War veterans, that is. 

“The city of Lancaster, for the most part, is a combined sewage system, so the stormwater and sewage share the same piping system because we’re very old,” Robert Ludgate Jr., City of Lancaster Waste Collection Supervisor said.

For now, his word of advice is this.

“If you’re in low laying area, I would make sure that I don’t have anything on that basement floor that was important to me,” Robert Ludgate Jr. said. “Once the storm has passed, I would say backflow preventers is something we recommend people put in that’s a device a plumber can install usually in the basement and that prevents floodwaters from coming back to you through your sewer lateral.”

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