Last month, Schuylkill County and the surrounding areas experienced an unusual and plentiful amount of rain; however, one small borough received a little more than most. With a population of just over 700 people, the main street of Gilberton was transformed into a river of eight feet of water. Since the water levels were progressively rising, multiple people had to evacuate their homes into boats to get to safety.
Officials reported that the peculiar amount of water was partially the result of construction and clogged drainage pipes on a bridge in the town. They believe that the bridge and its piping system was unable to contain the rushing waters of the Mahanoy Creek, which caused Main Street to flood. Gilberton’s drainage and piping system was severely damaged. Eventually, six pumps from New Jersey were used in draining the water levels and are currently serving as the primary way to move water through the town. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), an agency that supervises issues of transportation for the state, was working on construction for the bridge before the flooding occurred.
Local towns and organizations partnered together to supply the residents of Gilberton with life essentials, such as food, water, and clothing. Organizations, such as veteran groups and Boy Scouts, and businesses, like Lowe’s and Advanced Auto, have donated to the relief fund. Only 3 miles away, Girardville, another small community, donated cleaning supplies to help people restore and disinfect their homes. Items included gloves and cleaners, along with clothes, rags, and non-perishable food. The mayor and residents of Gilberton started a donation drive for the families of the damaged homes. They expect that the town will need a substantial amount of financial help in order to restore the town’s water system and appearance.
About a week after the water levels drastically receded, the Gilberton Borough Council conducted a town meeting to talk about the flooding; they discussed the possibility of condemning houses that are damaged beyond repair. Taking the public’s opinion and apparent deterioration of the town into consideration, they have come to the conclusion to seek compensation from PennDOT for the damages caused from the flooding. Many residents and neighbors agree to move forward in the legal liability and are hoping to receive some reimbursement from the state agency for the damages that occurred.
In cases like Gilberton and PennDOT, filing compensation against a government agency is possible but only under special circumstances. Similar to how Gilberton is handling their case, people can also file liabilities and general compensation. Since the town officials and residents believe the state agency’s construction project is most likely a contributor for the flood, they are asking for compensation from the state.
At O’Connor Law, we specialize in compensation cases, such as personal injury and workers’ compensation. For example, if you were to be injured while at work, our team of attorneys and staff can help you to file a claim against that company. If you believe to be in a scenario, like Gilberton, or are considering filing a case, call O’Connor Law toll free at 800-518-4529 for a free initial consultation and evaluation of your situation.