Flash flooding returns to Mt. Pleasant Township
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Bob and Cheryl Shumar, who run the Patriot Company Store out of their residence at 2317 state Route 31 in Mt. Pleasant Township, stared on in somber silence recently as several feet of brown, foul-smelling, debris-littered water overtook the couple's backyard.
“We're right on the elbow of this creek, so when it floods, this is what happens,” Cheryl Shumar said. “When this goes away, there will be a giant sandbar in its place.”
The rain and accompanying floods that hit the area Aug. 28 were the latest of what has become a historically soggy summer.
A deep layer of very moist air accounted for the 2 to more than 3 inches of rain slamming eastern Butler County, western Armstrong County and throughout Westmoreland County in a two-hour period, according to Brad Rehak, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon Township.
The flooding in the Shumar's backyard and basement, along with that of their neighbors along Jacobs Creek would have been much worse if it weren't for the Acme Dam, according to Westmoreland County engineer Henry Fitz.
The flood-control dam, which is county-owned and operated, is a 24-acre impoundment located 3 1⁄2 miles west of Donegal in Chestnut Ridge Park.
Acme Dam is fed by the headwaters of Jacobs Creek and has an average depth 11 1⁄2 feet, according to the state Fish and Boat Commission website.
“Without that dam, it would have been a lot worse, that's what that dam was built for — flood control,” Fitz said. “But I definitely feel for those who get the flooding in these times of heavy, heavy rain.”
The Acme Dam, along with the Bridgeport and Greenlick dams, are all flood-control dams originally designed and constructed to alleviate flooding in Scottdale, Fitz said.
Prior to the construction of the dams, Mt. Pleasant Fire Chief Jerry Lucia said he remembers a time in the mid-1950s when damage caused by flooding that started in the Acme area was much farther reaching.
“I can remember people being removed from Everson in boats, the water marks would be on the second floors of the houses,” he said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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