Delmont group to tackle storm damage at ball fields
The Delmont Area Athletic Association seeks help from local residents and neighboring communities as it recovers from a storm that swept through Westmoreland County on Tuesday, causing estimated wind damage of at least $30,000 at the group's four baseball and softball fields at Shields Farm.
High winds bent backstop poles, collapsed a batting cage, snapped off a pole supporting a speaker and damaged two dugouts and a half dozen picnic tables.
Association President Sean Susick, who schedules games matching the group's roughly 225 youth players against neighboring Penn-Trafford, Level Green and Franklin Regional teams, said he has received offers to use fields in nearby communities to allow games to get under way beginning Tuesday, as originally planned.
"We'll probably have to play some away games until we can get everything repaired," Susick said.
The storm ripped the roofs off two dugouts and broke apart a block wall in one.
"Those fields are going to be down for a while," Susick said. "Those dugouts need construction work. They're unsafe to be in."
He said the association board will meet Thursday to craft a plan to repair the fields. He encouraged community volunteers to bring chain saws and work gloves to the fields at 8 a.m. Saturday to help clear away fallen trees and other debris.
Delmont Borough officials confirmed that the fields, though located in neighboring Salem Township, are owned by the borough but weren't sure what might be eligible for coverage. Solicitor Dan Hewitt said the borough's insurance carrier has been notified.
In Murrysville, the storm tore up trees and knocked down a 50-foot flagpole at the private Grandview Cemetery, where about 3,500 people — including several hundred veterans — have been interred since 1912.
"A branch from a walnut tree broke off and smashed into the flagpole and just took it to the ground," said Pam Seighman, whose family owns and maintains the cemetery.
She said family members were having lunch outside their adjacent home when the storm hit, bringing hail along with strong gusts. They sheltered under a deck, unable to fight through the wind to get inside the home, she said.
"I had hold of my granddaughter and was holding on to the bricks," Seighman said Wednesday. "I'm still in shock."
The family recently invested $1,000 to refurbish the flagpole and, based on past estimates, believes it will cost at least $13,000 to replace it, Seighman said.
But, she added, "We're going to pick up the pieces and keep going."
The storm interrupted electric service to about 5,000 West Penn Power customers.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 194 customers in Westmoreland County were still without power, according to the company's website.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jhimler_news.