Wyoming Valley Levee System
"And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."
Some know them as levees and others call them dikes, but the large embankments along the river were not always here. The oldest and most extensively used method of flood control, levees keep raging floodwaters from racing through people's homes and businesses. To make a levee, tons of earth and other fill material are placed and compacted to form a watertight earthen dam
. Grass sod planted on the slopes prevents the soil from washing away. In sections where the river current may cause erosion, the sloping river side of the levee is armored or protected with a layer of stone called riprap.
Building levees is a science. Designing a successful levee means taking into account the river's path, foundation conditions, the kind of materials used to construct the levee embankment and armoring, if needed. Levees differ
in height depending upon the severity of local flooding, costs, environmental impacts and other factors. The US Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, built the first levees along the Susquehanna River in the late 1930s, following the Wyoming Valley's devastating 1936 flood. Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 led the Corps to enlarge them and add
While a levee's primary goal is to shield a community from flooding, more often, it offers walking, jogging, biking and bird-watching
opportunities. But it stands ready to hold back the waters whenever the river grows angry.
[Illustrations, from top to bottom, read]
· Typical levee embankment profile
· Typical floodwall profile. Where there is not enough land area to build a levee of sufficient height a concrete or steel floodwall provides the needed flood protection.
· Placing fill to build the Swoyersville-Forty Fort levee, 1953.
· Aerial view of South Wilkes-Barre showing some homes almost completely submerged during the 1972 flood. Photo by Sam Salutsky.
· View of Kirby Park, Nesbitt Park and Kingston during the 1936 flood.