Eastwick residents met to discuss next steps amid neighborhood's vulnerability to flooding

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Fed-up residents in the Eastwick section of Southwest Philadelphia met Saturday to discuss the next steps in their battle over the neighborhood's vulnerability to flooding.

Organizers at Saturday's meeting say they were told that no state or federal funding will be available to help them from this latest flood.

The flood-ravaged area which has battled with local, state and federal lawmakers for decades is calling for more help on the state and federal level.

This comes as the area is heading into a hurricane season that is expected to be one of the most challenging in recent years.

During Isaias in early August, floodwaters inundated the community causing major damage.

In response, Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson and Mayor Kenney fielded questions during a virtual town hall. During that meeting, The United States Army Corps of Engineers says they are in the middle of a three-year study in partnership with the city to address the issues.

City officials said at the time it is continuing to lobby the governor's office to have the federal government declare the area a disaster so they can qualify for financial assistance.

Councilmember Johnson created a special task force to address immediate and long term flooding and will include lawmakers from all levels of government.

Saturday, residents met in the Penrose Shopping Center one woman who took the microphone said she's so frustrated she wants to leave.

"I'm sick, I'm ready to move but I can't sell my house, so I can't move," the resident said. "I know since Hurricane Floyd there's really no record of anything that's been done to mitigate issues."

Resident David Thomas says his family has lived in Eastwick for many generations.

"We've had a million task forces, I don't know what another task force is going to do. That's not to be disrespectful, but the problem is the same thing over and over again," said Thomas. "We've had promises from other politicians to build a levy, promises for all retaining walls, but nothing has happened."

The quiet section of the city is in the furthest part of Southwest Philadelphia, it is surrounded by creeks, wetlands and a landfill.

Many in the community can't afford flood insurance. Several residents floated the idea of government buyouts, even a class action lawsuit.

Thomas says the community is on edge each time another storm comes through.

"It is going to be on record one of the most active hurricane seasons to date. We've never had anything happen twice in a year, but the reality is we could," said Thomas.

When asked for comment, Gov. Tom Wolf's office provided the following statement:

Gov. Wolf is concerned for the residents affected by Isaias and is working with PEMA, the county, and city of Philadelphia to assess all damage to determine if we meet the threshold to request federal aid. As soon as we know and if we meet the threshold, the governor will make the request.
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