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Ten-Year Bucks County Flood Mitigation Project Draws To A Close

By Jim Melwert

LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) -- It's taken more than ten years and it cost more than $27 million, but today one of Bucks County's largest-ever flood mitigation projects came to end, marked today by homeowners, politicians, and engineers with a ceremony along the Neshaminy Creek.

More than 150 home and properties were involved: 37 had structures added to lift furnaces and other utilities away from danger, 47 homeowners were bought out, and 85 homes were elevated -- some as much as 14 feet in the air (top photo).

"Today is really, really a great day in my mind, in terms of reflecting back on all it took to do it," said Sam Smith, who lives in one of the now-elevated homes on Periwinkle Drive, near the creek.

His house was lifted more than nine feet off the ground, and he says clean-up after a more recent flood took just a day, compared to the weeks it took previously.

"It's just a matter of taking a hose and washing thing out, versus not having your couch, not having your birth certificate, your baby pictures," he said.  "There's no dignity in a flood -- it's all humility."

May Johnson has lived on Main Street in Hulmeville for 45 years, thirty of those without much concern for flooding, she says, until upstream development took off.

Johnson's was the final home of the project, which credits for saving her community.

"They've really given us back our security, the've given us back our homes," she said today.

The bulk of the money came from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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