Parts of Mid-Mon Valley experience flooding
By Rick Bruni Jr.
Published: Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A violent downpour Friday morning flooded local basements and roads and pushed debris into yards throughout parts of Washington County, including small communities along state Route 481.
According to the National Weather Service, 2 inches of rain fell from 7 to 10 a.m. with a few isolated showers dumping 3 inches of rain on parts of the Mid-Mon Valley.
West Pike Run Township was among the hardest hit areas. At least six homes along West Pike Run Creek in Coal Center were flooded after one resident said the creek rose more than 12 inches in a matter of hours Friday morning.
“About 7 a.m. I sent my kid to school and the creek was up about a foot to a foot and a half. By about 10:30, the water was already in my yard, going into my basement,” said Daniel Fisher of 920 Pike Run Road. “We had debris, trees and a lot of stuff coming in from other people's yards.”
Bentleyville fire Chief Ron Sicchitano Sr. said basement flooding and road closures in the borough kept his department busy until Friday evening. He echoed reports that 3 inches of rain fell in a two-hour period.
“At one given time, we had about 12 roads shut down, including state Route 481,” Sicchitano said. “We had at least 16 homes that had flooded – and we're talking basements filled, at least 4 or 5 feet deep.”
California fire Chief Tom Hartley said firefighters pumped 3 to 4 feet of water from four basements in the Granville section of the borough. Most of the flooding calls, he said, came from West Pike Run and Coal Center.
“This is the most flooding we've seen since about five or six years ago, when Maple Creek flooded out in Charleroi,” Hartley said. “Normally, the creek is pretty low this time of year. It was just a result of the downpour we had in the short period of time.”
Sicchitano said he hopes any additional rain holds off for at least a few days.
“A lot of the ground is already very, very saturated,” he said. “Any additional rain could prove very problematic.”
Roscoe fire Chief Todd Mauk said there was flooding in Elco Hollow and on Valley Road in Long Branch, but no residents called his department about flooding in their basements.
“There was just flooding along the creek and debris in some yards,” Mauk said. “It was kind of sporadic. If there was any residential damage, we weren't notified.”
National Weather Service meteorologist John Darnley said a frontal boundary from the northwest combined with a warm, moist air mass to produce the heavy rain.
Darnley said nearly 2 inches of rain fell from 8 to 9 a.m. over the southeast corner of Washington County, the northern portion of Fayette County and southern Westmoreland County.
“When you have almost 2 inches of rain falling in a short amount of time like that, the tributaries can't drain,” he said.
In Westmoreland County, a mudslide caused by heavy rain forced a 6-mile-long traffic backup in the westbound lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, between Donegal and New Stanton, from 10 a.m. until nearly 12:30 p.m.
Turnpike spokesman Bill Capone said equipment was brought in to clear the mud and debris, and one lane was reopened by 11:15 a.m. Both lanes had reopened by 12:30 p.m.
Fisher said his home sustained approximately $10,000 to $15,000 in damage. He said the creek is about 50 feet from the foundation of his home.
“We've had the creek come up before but nothing like this … we have about six houses that sustained pretty severe damage,” Fisher said.
“We're having a lot of trouble getting help because we have only about eight houses along the creek and FEMA said that wasn't enough (to qualify for federal government aid).
“All of us are trying to figure out how to get help right now.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2635.
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