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Storm, cleanup change Elizabeth street

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 5:26 a.m.
Elizabeth firefighter John Hill mans the pump at a flooded Irwin Street basement.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Elizabeth firefighter John Hill mans the pump at a flooded Irwin Street basement.
Tina Magwood and her daughter Rikkyia cook lunch on the grill while they wait for utilities to be restored in their Elizabeth neighborhood..
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Tina Magwood and her daughter Rikkyia cook lunch on the grill while they wait for utilities to be restored in their Elizabeth neighborhood..
Elizabeth street department laid new pipe and gravel to reopen flood damaged Irwin Street by late Wednesday night.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Elizabeth street department laid new pipe and gravel to reopen flood damaged Irwin Street by late Wednesday night.

The neighbors were out and about. A party tent was up in one of the yards, and there was a whiff in the air of smoked meats cooking on a grill.

It sounds like the ingredients for a summer shindig, but that scene in Elizabeth on Thursday was the result of heavy rains and flash floods that swept through the region on Wednesday and caused the borough to declare a state of emergency.

Overflows of Fallen Timber Run and one of its feeder streams tore apart a section of Irwin Street and caused damage to several homes.

Elizabeth street department had laid enough pipe and gravel to restore the road to a passable condition by Wednesday night, but residents remained without power and gas on Thursday.

“My basement is flooded with water,” said Tina Magwood, who lives on Irwin Street.

As crews from the Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department worked to remedy Magwood's problem and several others using pumps and a generator supplied by Allegheny County Emergency Services, Magwood cooked bacon on the backyard grill for her family's lunch. Much of the yard still was waterlogged and muddy. Just up the road, a borough worker used a backhoe to smooth the restored section of Irwin Street.

The neighborhood's appearance has been changed by the flood and the restoration, Magwood said.

“This is a major difference,” she said, noting that the stream that caused much of the damage now is following a new course into Fallen Timber Run.

Beverly Laskody, who lives nearby, said she lost basement appliances to the flooding and had a refrigerator full of food that now is spoiling because she had no electricity. Making matters worse, she said, she doesn't have insurance to cover the losses.

“I have a basement full of mud,” Laskody said.

No vehicles were lost because of flooding.

Borough fire department safety officer Chuck Smith said several cars were stranded until the road was reopened.

He said first responders worked in the area until about 2 a.m. on Thursday and were back before 7 a.m. clearing branches that had fallen on utility lines.

Responders were tired but taking some heart in that there is no rain in the forecast for the next several days.

“The good thing is it's supposed to be nice until Monday,” Smith said.

Over at the borough building, council president Monica Glowinski and other local and county officials were preparing to deliver American Red Cross cleanup kits to the neighborhood.

Elizabeth, Lincoln, Jefferson Hills and West Elizabeth are among 12 communities in the county to declare disaster emergencies because of flooding.

Glowinski said on Thursday that officials still are trying to assess the level of damage.

She said it is too early to determine if the community will be eligible for state or federal disaster relief.

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, is scheduled to visit the borough on Friday at 3 p.m. to assess damage.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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