Share This Page

Pittsburgh communities fear flooding from megastorm

| Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, 8:46 p.m.

Severe rain and tropical storms always fray nerves in low-lying Millvale.

“If we flood again, I'm out of here,” said Jack Ceney, owner of Jack's Video and Ceney Electronics, both on Grant Avenue, the latter store having been started by his father in 1968.

As Hurricane Sandy closes in on the East Coast, residents of flood-prone towns in Western Pennsylvania fear a repeat of Hurricane Ivan.

“I lost my house. I couldn't pay my bills. It was either keep the house or keep the business. All you can do at times like this is hope for the best,” Ceney said Saturday in his video store.

Both Ceney's stores were destroyed and hundreds of Millvale homes and businesses damaged when Ivan dumped more than 7 inches of rain in the Pittsburgh region on Sept. 17, 2004.

The National Weather Service does not expect Sandy to bring anything that drastic to this region.

“The biggest concern would be snow in the ridges of Somerset and Fayette counties. The worst wind will probably be on Monday night,” said Rihaan Gangat, a weather service meteorologist.

On Monday night, winds are expected to gust up to 50 miles per hour. From Monday through Wednesday 3 to 4.5 inches of rain are likely to fall across the area.

“Based on how affected we are by the storm, we could move into a 24/7 mode of operation with the emergency operations center staffed and increased staffing at the 911 center,” said Alvin Henderson Jr., chief of Allegheny County emergency services.

Authorities are asking people to have three days of supplies at home — including batteries, water and food.

“The western third of the state might be spared the worst of the storm.

“We expect this to be a high wind-damaging event that could cause widespread power outages, though,” said Ruth Miller, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

In Western Pennsylvania, people took steps to prepare.

“Saturday is busy here. This Saturday is busier than most,” said Craig Thomas, an office clerk at Kuhn's supermarket on Banksville Road.

In Carnegie, another community severely damaged by Ivan, public works crews are removing leaves and branches from catch basins.

“It is hard to keep up with the leaves at this time of year. I am concerned about high winds knocking trees down, blocking roads and downing power lines, said Jeffrey Harbin, Carnegie's manager and police chief.

In Greensburg, fire Chief Ed Hutchinson said he's been in contact with officials in Harrisburg and has several special teams on standby.

The department is ready to send four boats and four swift-water rescue teams wherever they are needed. Nine of the 20 swiftwater-trained rescuers statewide are part of the Greensburg department, he said.

The department's Helicopter Advanced Rescue Team, or HART, is also on standby to rescue people who may become stranded on roofs, he said.

“We're as ready as we can be. The gear's ready; the boats are ready,” said Hutchinson. “We'll be at the will of Harrisburg.”

Staff writer Kari Andren contributed to this report. Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or rwills@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.