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Sandy spares Mon-Yough area

| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 4:47 a.m.

The Mon-Yough area largely was spared the havoc caused by superstorm Sandy, now downgraded from hurricane to post-tropical cyclone.

“Allegheny County and this region was very fortunate that the storm turned and slowed down,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said on Tuesday. “We had no loss of life, ordered no evacuations (and) did not have to open any shelters.”

Not every problem has been resolved. Flood warnings continued on a still-rising Youghiogheny River.

Forecasters expected the Yough to crest Tuesday night several inches over the 20-foot flood stage at Sutersville. The river still was at 4 feet as late as Monday at 8 p.m.

On the Monongahela River, warnings were canceled. At the Braddock lock and dam the Mon fell from 12.75 feet Tuesday at 3:30 a.m. to 11.79 feet at noon, but was expected to rise to 16.7 feet early Wednesday.

Flood stage at Braddock is 22 feet. Authorities deem no action is needed below 18 feet.

At Elizabeth there still was concern, with the river at 15.19 feet by Tuesday at noon and action deemed necessary at 16.5 feet. Flood stage is 20 feet at Elizabeth and the Mon was predicted to crest at 17.2 feet there Tuesday night.

Allegheny County issued a disaster emergency declaration in advance of the storm, as did the city of Clairton.

Clairton police Chief Rob Hoffman said there were some power lines down along Route 837 and some minor flooding, but no major issues.

Across the river, Glassport police Chief Howard Kifer said there were minor issues as a result of high winds and rain, such as power lines down near the intersection of Edmundson Drive and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The chief said a few drains were clogged and a minor mudslide along Ohio Avenue by the Glassport/Clairton Bridge was cleaned up quickly.

“We're lucky,” Kifer said. “No trees down or nothing like that. We're still monitoring the river.”

A portion of Homestead-Duquesne Road was closed because of a small landslide with wires down in Munhall, according to borough police.

PennDOT District 11 spokesman James Struzzi said downed utilities closed Lebanon Road between Irwin Run Road in West Mifflin and Mifflin Road in Hays, while flood waters shut down Streets Run Road in Baldwin. Both were reopened later in the day Tuesday.

Later, PennDOT crews responded to reports of a landslide blocking Route 837 (River Road) in West Mifflin. The road was blocked off between McClure Avenue in Dravosburg and the Duquesne-McKeesport Bridge.

No Norwin state highways were said to be closed as of Tuesday at noon. At that hour, PennDOT District 12 spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said there were closures of Yukon Road in Sewickley Township and the Bouquet Road Bridge in the Delmont area.

At around 6 p.m., White Oak police and fire units blocked off McKee Road at the juncture with Jacks Run Road because of downed power lines.

McKee Road recently was reopened after repairs of a collapsed lane in the vicinity of White Oak Athletic Association.

Across its service area in Allegheny and Beaver counties, Duquesne Light reported as of noon Tuesday that approximately 650 customers were without power.

“Crews are in the process of restoring power by removing trees and repairing downed wires,” said spokesman Brian Knavish. Duquesne Light expected to restore service to all customers Tuesday night.

He said residents can report outages to Duquesne Light by calling 888-393-7000 or visiting

“Downed wires are a safety hazard and should be avoided,” Knavish said. “They pose the danger of electrical shock and injury.”

West Penn Power also had scattered outages locally, but Murrysville had 1,464 without service as of midday Tuesday. The total outages for all of Westmoreland County at that time was 1,525.

The utility is telling customers on its website that “preliminary estimates indicate the possibility for lengthy outages in the storm's wake.”

It also said those who haven't reported service outages can do so by calling 888-544-4877, or 911 if there is a life-threatening emergency.

West Penn Power told customers that downed lines should be reported immediately to the utility or the local police or fire department.

The National Weather Service said 2.37 inches of rain were measured over 36 hours through midday Tuesday at Allegheny County Airport.

Nearly an inch and a half of that rain fell between Monday at 2 p.m. and Tuesday at 2 a.m. Gusts up to 40 mph were clocked as late as 4 a.m.

The storm washed out all trick-or-treat activities. Most communities announced Saturday afternoon or evening trick-or-treat times.

On Tuesday, Irwin and North Irwin followed North Huntingdon Township's lead and said Halloween activities will be Saturday from 4-6 p.m.

In Irwin, police said the top broke off of a telephone pole near the intersection of Fourth and Walnut streets.

Verizon cellular telephone customers experienced some problems in the downtown McKeesport area.

A company official said the problem is tied to equipment that is in a flooded basement at UPMC McKeesport and cannot be repaired until that basement is cleared out.

Verizon said there were no other cell phone problems reported in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

Schools resumed a normal schedule on Wednesday in East Allegheny, which previously announced it would operate on a two-hour delay. The district said Nov. 26 will be the make-up day for Tuesday's off-day.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or Staff writers Michael DiVittorio and Stacy Lee contributed to this story.

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