Russ Grimm Field in Scottdale feels wrath of storm

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Southmoreland administrators continued to work Tuesday to find a place for the Scotties to play their season-opening football game against Jeannette Friday since damages to Russ Grimm Field rendered it unplayable.

Tuesday's girls soccer scrimmage scheduled against Plum was be moved to Southmoreland Elementary School, but the destination for the future athletic contests scheduled for the field is still to be determined.

The torrential storm that dumped as much as two inches of rain on Southwestern Pennsylvania Aug. 23 pushed under the field-turf surface — which was put down in 2006 — ripping and crinkling the turf along its path.

“We're still in assessment mode,” said Superintendent John Molnar earler this week. “We're trying to get this done correctly.”

Molnar said district representatives met with insurance representatives and those from ProGrass, which installed the surface.

Meanwhile, Athletic Director Charlie Swink worked to find a place for the Scotties to play their Class AA Interstate Conference lid-lifter against Jeannette.

“We have several options available to us,” Molnar said Tuesday. “Charlie is looking at which one of those options is the best.”

The Scotties were scheduled to host Jefferson-Morgan in a scrimmage last week, but the scrimmage was moved to Jefferson-Morgan after the field had been damaged.

“It was just flooded,” Southmoreland football coach Mark Adams said. “When I got here, I saw the devastation.”

Adams noted the Scotties have moved their practices to the grass field next to the stadium. Adams was hoping to secure at least one practice session on an artificial turf field.

It's not known when Russ Grimm Field will be restored to playing condition.

“They are trying to give us a temporary fix so we can at least have two or three home games,” Adams said.

Molnar said the field will not be used until it is deemed safe, even though some portions were unharmed.

“There is water damage under the carpet,” Molnar said. “We don't want anybody twisting an ankle. The main thing is keeping all players safe. We're keeping them off the field, even the part that was not lifted.”

Southmoreland's next scheduled home football game is Sept. 13 against Mt. Pleasant. The home opener for the boys soccer team is Sept. 3 against South Park and for the girls it's Sept. 7 against Bentworth.

A significant portion of the field was lifted by the powerful waters that caused flooding in several areas of Westmoreland and Fayette counties. The view at the football field was one of water, and plenty of it.

“(On Friday) morning, as far as we could see it was underwater,” said Timothy Scott, assistant superintendent. “This whole field — everything — was underwater, a raging torrent of water that went all the way down the bleachers to all the way behind the maintenance building. I've never seen anything like this before. I don't think any of us understand the force of water It's a powerful force.”

Some of the wrath of the storm was felt in much of Scottdale's residential area.

Borough Manager Angelo Pallone said “flash flooding” occurred in areas such as Scottdale Avenue and Orchard Avenue near Sherrick Run and near the construction at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Broadway.

Other areas hit were West Park and Stauffer Avenue. Mt. Pleasant Road had to be closed for short period of time, as was Broadway.

“We have water all over town,” Pallone said Aug. 23. “But there's nothing with the downtown businesses. It's more of the residential sections that were hit hard. Some basements got some water and garages. Downtown looked pretty good. Jacobs Creek was a little high, as was Henderson Run. Just the rain itself was so crazy. It was like a monsoon.”

Pallone said the borough's road crew was a man short Friday due to a vacation, but the rest of the department was hard at work throughout the day.

“We had three guys out doing what I thought was a very good job,” Pallone said. “The police department was out patrolling to see if there was a need for any blocking of the streets. We did what we could to cover it.”

The water also battered homes in Bullskin.

Mary Hixson said her children woke her at 8:30 a.m. Friday because they thought someone was in the house.

When Hixson looked outside, then in the basement, she was shocked.

“There was water in the basement up to our waists,” Hixson said. “The yard looked like a raging river going through.”

In Mt. Pleasant Township, the waters of the normally tranquil Jacobs Creek were cascading at a level Adeline Tylka hadn't seen in nearly 30 years at her Hamel Road home.

“The last time I saw it this high was in August of 1985. There were people kayaking down the stream when it happened then,” she said.

Around 10:30 a.m., an unidentified man was swept into the floodwaters from his property along Route 982 in Laurelville. He was pulled from the raging torrent by friends and family members, said township Supervisor Duane Hutter, who works with the Kecksburg Rescue and EMS unit.

Mt. Pleasant Township Supervisor Frank Puskar, who went out on flooding calls with township crews all morning, called the storm just the latest in “an awful, wet, cool summer.”

“We've been inundated with bad rains and high water all summer, and the ground is saturated,” he said. “I sure hope this wet weather is not an indicator of what kind of winter we're going to have.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or Jason Black, Mark Hofmann and A.J. Panian also contributed to this story.

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