Siren is a short-term tool worth pursuing for Grafius Run area

A warning siren won’t solve the flooding problems in the Grafius Run area of Williamsport.

But, in the here and now, it’s an idea completely worth pursuing.

Members of the City Council Public Safety Committee want to see whether it is feasible for a siren to be used again, as it was in the past, to alert individuals near Grafius Run that the waterway is flooding.

Councilmen Clifford “Skip” Smith and Don Noviello are having Fire Chief Todd Heckman and the police department explore whether to reactivate a dormant siren at Cochran Primary School as an audible warning for residents of impending flooding.

The siren would be a means of informing residents to move belongings upstairs and begin to operate water pumps. It also would take some of the pressure off emergency personnel, who could be better used responding to imminent flooding instead of having to knock on the doors of homeowners.

No one knows what the cost would be of reactivating the siren, operating it and maintaining it, but the city administration has been asked to at least determine that information.

It’s worth the exploration, because most of the flooding in the Grafius Run area comes from excessive rainfall over a brief period of time. It’s a fast-arriving emergency, which is what a siren is meant for.

The city has made strides in recent years on the problem of debris clogging street inlets by stationing Streets and Parks Department personnel at sites where the run goes beneath ground at Highland Terrace and near Bloomingrove Road removing debris from collecting at two trash racks as the culvert dips below ground.

But there is no long-term solution to the Grafius Run flooding. An engineering company has been hired to study the watershed in search of a permanent Grafius Run flood remedy.

But any permanent solution probably is several years away.

For now, the first call to duty is to inform the public in an emergency to minimize damage and prevent tragedy.

To that end, an emergency siren would help.

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