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Flood Victim Finds Twp. Decision Unacceptable, Heartless

The board of commissioners didn't want to set a precedent by helping out a family in need.

In 2005, I saw this house for sale and it was the perfect place to raise my family. It was LMT, a beautiful suburban community.

When I was told that I needed flood insurance, I questioned it. I was told that there was a 1 percent chance in a 100 years that it would flood.

Seven days after we moved in we had a flood.

We lost alot of precious memories, Photos, furniture, etc. and $73,000 for everything else. I went to a Lawyer and was told there was nothing that I could do. My fault for believing people were honest.

Since then we have had two other floods. Now the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is buying us out. FEMA is paying 75 percent, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Administration (PEMA) is paying 22 percent.

We asked the Lower Macungie Township Commissioners to help us with the 3 percent remaining. The Township gets the house and land for $6,000 (cheap price!) but LMT refused to help.

Whether the flooding is caused by past LMT commissioners allowing homes to be built in flood zones, or by recent commissioners approving all the new developing they did it without thought or concern of what flooding problems would occur.

The LMT Commissioners responsibility is to be there to protect and serve the  families and the residents of the community. When the board of commissioners said they did not want to set precedent, I was sickened by the fact that this is what people have become.

GONE are the days when friends, neighbors, and community leaders helped good hard-working families who suffered a great loss, both mentally and financially. Is this the new America? Is this what we should teach our children?

The LMT commissioners' precedent is when families go in front of the BOC at a meeting to ask for help, the commissioners yell at them, they are rude to them, they put blame on the family, and then they turn their backs on them!

Would God approve of this? Are the LMT commissioners proud of this precedent? In closing, I would to thank Commissioner Brown for being a great and good man for standing up for what is right and being there for the people.

When Election time comes, we must vote out the self-serving commissioners and vote in community-serving commissioners.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MS December 11, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I completely agree with this families opinion on what they are going through. The days when township officials are honest with you on township growth and decisions are gone, and it's because of this that we have become the society we are, where we have to look to our legal options to deal with heartless and ignorant decisions by officials in our township, past and present....As residents of this township we have to do our homework, because the township will NOT be on your side when you run into what this family has after they allow Jaindl to build his megaplex of wharehouses...and you know it will happen, money talks...citizens don't matter ..... money matters
Michele K December 11, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I'm sorry but you do not just get money because you ask for it. You are required to perform due diligence prior to buying a home, and if you buy the home anyway you assume the risk. LMT's Board didn't make representations to you about your home. LMT's Board didn't instruct anyone to build a home on this parcel. I think instead your Realtor may be the appropriate target of requests for money, if they did not inform you of the risk and known hazards. However, you say you were told you needed flood insurance. Did that not raise a red flag for you? Whether God approves of any of it is inconsequential. You're an adult. You have responsibilities. Besides, you're getting 97% of the money, which is more than many homeowners get these days on a sale!
Dave Makuta December 11, 2012 at 07:32 PM
@ Michele K, This issue is not just about us. It includes 2 other Families that were turned down too. So you are saying that all 3 families should not get help from the township? All of us are losing money on our homes, and the township gets them all for FREE! 2 of the homeowners have lived here for more than 17 years. They were never in a flood zone, but yet you put blame on us for living here. We also have lost alot more "Money" because of going through the flooding, even though we all have insurance it does not pay for all the damage. Until you have experienced a Disaster for yourself, you can not understand what it is like. I think you should take up the offer that Susan Bieber gave you to come to our homes and sit and wait for the water to cross the street and worry if it will come into the home. We are not creating the flooding, but yet we are the ones suffering for it!
Michael D Siegel December 11, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Sounds like a reasonable deal to me. Since Lower Macungie has set a precedence to do this to two other properties--why not continue? Questions- who pays for demolition of the house? Who gets the proceeds from the demolition? Pretty cheap for open space property to me. I do not mind since we do not pay municipal taxes now.What about PennDot- do they want the property for drainage facilities?
Dave Makuta December 12, 2012 at 01:56 AM
@emmaus124. If you read what I wrote back to Michele, you will see that we all do have flood insurance. So we are not being negligible, we are accountable, and we are not asking to be "Bailed" out!
Ron Beitler December 12, 2012 at 02:56 AM
My question is this.... Did someone warn the Biebers 17 years ago... that the township was going to develop recklessly for the better part of a decade... (and basically continue to do so.. note: recently approved 80% impervious coverage on a mega shopping center project..we continue to hand out requests to increase impervious like it's candy...) Should they have had the foresight to foresee officials mess up stormwater management over the course of a decade and a half? NOTE: 1990 census? <14,000 2000 census <19,000 residents 2010 census >30,000 residents Now.. do I have an issue with the growth alone. No. Change happens. Smart growth isn't a bad thing. Trouble is... in LMT it's been reckless. Just look to Spring Creek Rd. during the most common rain events. Anyone who lives in that area of the township is familiar. It's basically a raging river that flows over Spring Creek Rd. into the Little Lehigh. Where does this water come from? Wal-Mart Shopping center. Is that good stormwater management? Guess where these 3 houses are... about a 1/4 mile upstream. When a river floods it backlogs. Water entering at Spring Creek and Millcreek Rd's backlog the river up stream. Do I support gov't bailouts of residents? No. Do I support a township owning up to mistakes of the past? Do I think we have a moral responsibility? Yes. Doug Brown and the 2009 board felt the township had a responsibility to homeowners. I tend to agree.
Ron Beitler December 12, 2012 at 03:00 AM
The question I want to ask is... Is there anyone who thinks the township has grown responsibly and that it has not affected the flood plains? Not only in height but more importantly the RATE/SPEED THE RIVER RISES. If so... make that argument. I like to use wal-mart as an example because it's so visual with the stormwater issues. And please note: Residents did sue and fought this. But the developers won... Again, @Emmaus124.. I'm not arguing against personal responsibility. I'm arguing for the township owning up to it's responsibility.
Ron Beitler December 12, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Maybe the commissioners won't support this because deep down inside they know that if built the Jaindl development is going to further affect the floodplains... Maybe they do agree that in the next ten years there will be 20 more houses getting flooded out on a regular basis.... Maybe that's why they are so afraid of setting a precedent.
Ron Beitler December 12, 2012 at 05:56 PM
@Emmaus124...I think that they are required to have flood insurance. I agree with you and others who are wary of gov't handouts. I am myself. (One of my biggest issues I write about in terms of state and national politics is reforming entitlements!) I just think in this situation, the township has some responsibility for poor decisions it's made in the past. And I am convinced that these decisions have affected the flood planes and folks have lost home value because of it. Also Mike S. has a great point about an opportunity lost for the township to acquire this land extremely cheap. After the houses are demolished they would become open space owned by the township. They would be integrated into the township greenway. Open space acquisition and protection is a hyper popular initiative in the township. Survey after survey reinforces this.
Michael D Siegel December 12, 2012 at 06:58 PM
As somewhat of an expert in flood insurance, I can tell that if have any type of mortgage, flood insurance is required by the lending institution. That includes refinance home loans and home equity loans if you are within the the 100 year floodplain. The 100 year flood plain was remapped in 2001 along Spring Creek Rd. My home was placed in the 100 year flood plain but I chose no flood insurance because I have no mortgage. I can tell you the twsp is foolish for not buying out the rest of the properties. I really feel the twsp is getting a deal on additional open space and meets the goals of the new open space plan. Wake up commissioners. You have three real estate people on the board. This is a deal of a lifetime. Hell of a a lot better than purchasing Camp Olympic. Spend your budget money on this for the returns are far better and the problem is only going to get worse.
Michael D Siegel December 12, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Pandoras box was opened in 1999 with the Walmart developer JDN when the twsp refused to support our concern with the stormwater problem along Spring Creek Rd. Also look what has happened now- the twsp has been sued by a resident for not installing stormwater basins to protect other residential properties along the turnpike. Finally,I believe the root of the problem stems from the fact their is no storm water retention or detention in Ancient Oaks or Ancient Oaks West- direct discharges into the creek and Upper Macungie stormwater basins that flow into the Iron Run Creek do not control the two year storm event or the twsp allowed all the natural closed depressions to be filled in, thus placing more volume of stormwater into the headwaters of the Little Lehigh Creek Watershed. The real problem is the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and the fact that they never controlled the volume of water from increased impervious surfaces- only the rate of water. If the ground is saturated or frozen- rate does not work anymore. With the ground water table returned to its natural state in 1996 from not pumping the Lehigh Portland Cement Quarries in Fogelville, the residents who had homes along the creek now experienced flooding. The pumping stopped around 1989 and it took six years for the groundwater table to return to pre-1940 levels where their use to be mills along the creek.
Michael D Siegel December 12, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Finally, The Ancient Oaks homes were built during record droughts and low stream levels and flooding in the 1950-70 was not an issue and when no floodplains were identified prior to 1972.
Ron Beitler December 12, 2012 at 08:12 PM
How can we rehabilitate the Ancient Oaks system at this point? Who would be responsible? This is why it's so important we GET IT RIGHT when we develop. Obviously the developer of ancient oaks has been gone for 3 decades. Now whose responsible for the lack of current best practice stormwater systems in Ancient Oaks?
Michael D Siegel December 12, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Ron, the twsp is responsible under their Individual NPDES permit for stormwater Activities. They must identify problems and correct them. These lots for open space will help the stormwater system if they build underground detention basins for several areas within Ancient Oaks. The key to the entire problem here is to hold back the stormwater in the useless basins near the sewage pretreatment plant in Upper Macungie by running the man-made channel through these basins to act as closed depressions during heavy storms and to get the walmart channel to the creek within one giant retention facility in the farmfield above spring creek rd
Michael D Siegel December 12, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Is time to request the township with the assistanceof the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff to form a committee of local experts and Bill Erdman and Dean Hauss to devise a plan in Western Lehigh County for retrofitting existing stormwater basins to retention facilities and other BMPs to control the flooding along Spring Creek Rd. Digging out the Little Lehigh Creek bed is not the answer. Retrofitting the detention facilities to retention facilities and redirecting the man made stormwater channel in Upper Macungie into these facilities will help significantly to reduce the volume of runoff reaching the creek. Personally, LVPC can take the rate studies and shove them. Volume control is now the problem and must be addressed. Why should we worrying about downstream flooding when there is no one living along the creek in Allentown-- its all park and open space
Ron Beitler December 12, 2012 at 09:28 PM
So the township could essentially purchase these 3 distressed properties EXTREMELY cheap... and turn this location into a stormwater basin? Thats a fantastic idea. Mike we need you back on the planning commission.
Dave Makuta December 12, 2012 at 10:18 PM
@Ron, The point is yes they could purchase these 3 properties. At the last meeting I told them that for $21,000 (which is the amount to purchase the 3 homes) they would be getting the homes and the land for a very cheap price, and it would be land that can be used for greenspace or whatever. That is when the President of the Board yelled at me , saying they have made their decision and it was time to put the issue to bed! This is what I was talking about in the article of how families get treated in times of need and this is why we need to get the self-serving comm out and get community-serving commissioners in. We need people on the BOC that can be accountable for their decisions, be there for the families and the community, and to fix the issues in the township to make LMT a great place to live. Unfortunately it is too late for all 3 of our families, but maybe there can be hope for other families in the future. WE NEED GOOD PEOPLE . I am 100% for you Ron!
Michael D Siegel December 13, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Dave, What we need our wards- that is the answer. Why wait- one signature will do on a petition submitted to the courts. The commissioners can do this more quickly if the petition is presented to them at a twsp meeting under the reapportion act of 1996. If the twsp commisioners refuse to act, the court can entertain the petition and tthe commissioners will lose control of how the twsp will be divided up to 15 wards of at least 350 people in each ward. WE MUST DO THIS NOW. Nine or eleven commissioners will serve our community with fairness and no self interest issues
Michele K December 14, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Yes, Dave, I am saying that. First off, if I sold my home today I would be ECSTATIC to get 97% of the price for it! The Township gets a property they can't use or sell? Wow, what a bargain for them. I can see why their "free" ownership would be so coveted. The bottom line is, you have to do research before buying a home. Flood insurance is ONLY offered to places where it's known to happen - the information about that alone should have made you reconsider your home purchase. I've dealt with flooding issues, I've had to do repairs and I've also learned what questions I need to ask the first time I see a place I'm considering moving in to. But I also realized that when it did flood - it was MY fault for not asking questions I should have asked. I didn't go to my township asking for free money after I was already compensated at a 97% rate. Geez.
Susan Bieber December 27, 2012 at 04:00 PM
To let you all know, I received an e-mail today from the township stating that the 3% will be picked-up by the state. A very good X-mas present for both us & the township. There are people that care. Thank you to the state and Ben for being there for us.
Susan Bieber December 27, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Michele K: Just curious as too how much flood issues you had to deal with? Did you in fact have to deal with FEMA? Independent Insurance? Mortgage Company? Contractors? And all of these at one time. Each have their own rules and regulations which most contractors do not understand. Did you have $4000 in deductibles and personal property depreciation of 50% or more? Were you told by the mortgage company that even though you do not want to renovate your basement you have to because it was finished prior to the flood. And did you know that FEMA does not cover basements except for drywall only, taped and plastered? Before opining maybe you should do some research and maybe then you will understand why the 3% was so important. After 2 refinances on the house the "Fair Market Value" will only cover the balance of our mortgage. I will be out of a house and no where to go, but the buy-out is the only option we have. Legally all damage now has to be disclosed when the house is being sold. Who is going to buy it? And morally I could not live with myself if some poor sap did buy it. I know what to expect but the new owner wouldn't. Do you understand now why the buyout at 100% is so important. If you don't I'd be more than happy to tell you but you better have a lot of time cause there's a whole lot of explaination. At this point your opinion anly shows your ignorance on this matter.

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