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A-K Valley recovers from waves of storms

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dis
Temporary stop signs line the intersection of Stevenson Boulevard and Fourth Street in New Kensington after late night storms knocked out power to traffic lights in the city's Parnassus section on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

Heavy waves of rainfall that passed through the Alle-Kiski Valley on Tuesday night and early Wednesday downed hundreds of trees, flooded roadways and knocked out power in more than 7,000 households.

And the National Weather Service reports that conditions may be right for more rain, which could lead to flash flooding and likely power outages through Friday night.

Around 3 p.m. Wednesday, 983 West Penn Power customers in Westmoreland County were still without power, said county emergency public information officer Sandy Smythe.

By 6:30 p.m. that had been reduced to about 350 outages in the company's service area in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland counties.

The highest number of customers without power were in Kiski Township, where about 110 remained without service. In Gilpin, there were 41 outages reported, while Saxonburg, Winfield and Burrell Township each had about 25 customers still without power and Vandergrift and Bell Township with about 20 remaining outages.

A Duquesne Light spokesman said Wednesday that electricity is expected to be fully restored throughout the area by 2 p.m. Thursday. An estimated 1,200 Duquesne Light customers were still without power as of 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The power company said crews were working around the clock to fix downed wires and shortages across Allegheny and Beaver counties.

More outages expected

Further power outages are expected this week as the National Weather Service in Moon Township issued a flash flood watch that was in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday through this morning. A watch means that conditions are ripe for flash flooding if more rain falls.

Weather service meteorologist Fred McMullen projects the Alle-Kiski Valley to receive an additional one to three inches of rain during that time.

The rain is expected to fall fast enough for rivers and streams to flash flood, he said. The Valley is currently susceptible to flooding after the ground was saturated this week with one to five inches of rain, McMullen said.

Central Allegheny County bore the brunt of the storm Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Highland Park river lock measuring more than three inches of rain, according to the weather service.

2 rescued in O'Hara

Blawnox, Aspinwall and Fox Chapel firefighters rescued two people in that area shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday on Freeport Road between Powers Run Road and Clifton Avenue in O'Hara.

O'Hara Police Sgt. Scott Slagel said a township police officer spotted a car and sport utility vehicle that had apparently stalled in two feet of water.

Firefighters pulled the drivers to safety before pushing the vehicles to a dry area, Slagel said.

The responders cleaned out a storm drain in the area and the water drained out as both vehicles were towed away.

The firefighters also removed a fallen tree from the road. They were on the scene until 3 a.m.

Other places affected

Other noted roadways affected by the flooding were Route 28 in Etna, Route 8 in Middlesex and Route 66 in Salem Township.

Each of the roads had at least one lane shut down Wednesday to repair damage.

Emergency management personnel from Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland counties reported that there were no injuries sustained as a result of the storm.

Watch for downed lines

Butler County Emergency Services Director Steve Bicehouse is urging county residents to steer clear from downed or exposed wires.

The county received 126 reports of fallen wires. Westmoreland received between 60 and 70.

The weather service is forecasting thunderstorms to continue through Friday night.

Weekend temperatures are projected to fluctuate between 60 and 80 degrees with a chance of thunderstorms.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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