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Mt. Pleasant is soaked by storms, flooding which hit region

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Diane McCormick helps her husband, Denis, search for their displaced Japanese koi fish in the receding floodwater on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in their yard along Hoza Way in Mt. Pleasant. The fish washed out of a self-built pond when the McCormicks' backyard was flooded with 2 feet of water.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Jacobs Creek water rages to the brink of flooding along White Bridge Road in Mt. Pleasant Township after heavy rains hit the area recently. Photo taken Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
A river-like overflow of water cuts through yards along Diamond Street in Mt. Pleasant after storms recently struck the region. Photo taken Wednesday, July 10, 2013

During periods of heavy rain, flooding has become the new normal for borough resident Diane McCormick, her husband and their three children, she said.

“Every time it rains, it's like ‘Here we go,'” said McCormick, 42, regarding her property belonging to she and her husband, Denis, 45, along Hoza Way.

Even still, at 11 a.m. July 10, McCormick said she peered out the bedroom window of her family's two-story house and simply could not believe her eyes.

Amid the torrential thunderstorms that doused the region, causing the Pittsburgh area to suffer from extensive flash flooding, nearly 2 feet of water had flooded McCormick's entire backyard.

“It felt like we were in the middle of a small lake,” she said. “Water was everywhere, so I pushed the panic button.”

McCormick rushed her 22-year-old daughter Stephanie, and sons Vinnie, 20, and Daniel, 11, out of the house as they drove to safety at the home of her father in East Huntingdon.

“I didn't know if we would be able to get out if we waited any longer,” she said, adding that they brought along the family dog, a Shih Tzu named Lily, and a pet ferret named Ziggy.

As she was leaving, McCormick called her husband at work to deliver the bad news.

Upon arriving at the property a short time later, Denis McCormick discovered that the rising water engulfed the family's home-built fishpond, leaving 11 Japanese koi to swim about across the backyard.

“We've been here 10 years now, and this flooding has been a real problem,” he said. “This pond has flooded over three times. I just try to catch the fish with a net and get them back in the pond.”

The McCormicks said they spent $5,000 remodeling their basement earlier this year, but they began removing all the installed paneling and ceiling tiles just prior to the storm due to a previous flooding incident.

“We take a lot of pride in this house and we take care of it, but this basement has flooded three times now, and we're not going to remodel it again,” Denis McCormick said.

Roughly 12 inches of water soaked the house's cellar area, ruining bedrooms where Stephanie and Vinnie McCormick sleep, which will force them to sleep on couches upstairs, Diane McCormick said.

Denis McCormick said the family does not possess flood insurance because of the expense. Instead he said that over time he paid to have an electric pump installed to help siphon away floodwater, and he paid neighbor Mike Kolar to landscape the property in a way that would protect the house.

But when the flooding comes as fast and as furious as it did on Wednesday, neither proved very effective in limiting the damage, he said.

“With all the streets up around their house, the (drainage pipes) are not big enough to handle all of the run off from all of those properties,” Kolar said.

Which is one reason why Denis McCormick said he plans to approach borough council about devising a possible solution to the ongoing flooding issue.

“I'll have to talk to the borough and see what they can do to help us,” he said. “I have no control over this.”

Borough Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Kraisinger said he has lived on Orchard Avenue near the McCormick family's property for 59 years.

“I've seen that property flooded down through there many times. Its just a low-lying area,” Kraisinger said.

The rest of the borough was spared, for the most part, he said.

“I think there were two other residences where they used Shop Vacs to sweep up water in their basements,” Kraisinger said.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or