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Sandy causes minor flooding, little else here

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 9:56 p.m.
Library Director Mandy Luchs, pauses after surveying cleanup progress in the Sewickley Township Public Library. Heavy rains caused water damage though the books were spared. Disaster restoration crews moved the bookshelves away from the block walls and removed carpet tiles inside the 1930s-era building.  
Sean Stipp | For The Times-Sun
Library Director Mandy Luchs, pauses after surveying cleanup progress in the Sewickley Township Public Library. Heavy rains caused water damage though the books were spared. Disaster restoration crews moved the bookshelves away from the block walls and removed carpet tiles inside the 1930s-era building.   Sean Stipp | For The Times-Sun

Rivers and creeks crested much lower than expected and only minor flooding was reported as the rain caused by Hurricane Sandy passed over the area.

The Youghiogheny River at Sutersville crested at 17.59 feet about 2 p.m. Oct. 31, much lower than the highest prediction of 21.2 feet from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

More than four inches of rain fell during the early part of last week, causing a few road closures and water damage to the Sewickley Township Public Library in Herminie.

“There was a lot of water,” said library director Mandy Luchs. “It was never really deep, it just kept seeping.”

A disaster restoration crew moved bookshelves full of books, removed carpet tiles and sawed off sections of wall to dry out the library and inspect for damage last Monday, Luchs said.

The room housing children's books -- newly completed in the spring with a mural and custom-fitted bookshelves -- had to be partially gutted.

Luchs said she was glad none of the books or other materials were damaged, but the damage still hurts.

“It's just devastating,” she said. “I feel a little bit like somebody died. We all kind of live and breathe this place.”

A story time Halloween party for about 10 toddlers and preschoolers had to be canceled Oct. 31 and the Election Day soup, bake and book sale had to be moved upstairs to the recreation offices.

Supervisor Alan Fossi said the damages are a part of challenges with the building, which features a plaque from when it was dedicated as the Sewickley Township High School annex in 1942.

“It's extremely discouraging,” he said of the damages. “We have some very potentially tough decisions to make there.”

Because some precipitation fell in the higher elevations in the Laurel and Chesnut ridges as snow, flooding was less than expected, said Joe Palko, National Weather Service hydrologist in Pittsburgh.

“Although the river came up several feet and there were several fast flows … it didn't look like there was very much damage in that area,” he said.

The 14-day forecast following the snow keeps temperatures steady, which will allow it to gradually fade from the landscape rather than causing further flooding, Palko said.

“We're not expecting any rapid warm-ups or rapid melts,” he said.

A section of Creek Road, or Route 3012, in Sewickley Township and a section of Meadow Run Road in South Huntingdon Township were closed Tuesday morning after water rendered them impassable.

Creek Road near Yukon between Pierce Road and New Block Drive was closed after water from Sewickley Creek rose up to three feet before subsiding, Paul Rupnik Jr., emergency management agency director for Sewickley Township.

No homes were affected along that rural section of road, but the township declared a state of emergency early morning Tuesday.

Rupnik said officials believed three people in two homes on Neffs Lane in Lowber were in danger of becoming stranded by rising flood waters.

As they were preparing to evacuate to a shelter in Herminie, the water subsided and residents either returned home or went to stay with family friends, Rupnik said.

A few homes took on between three and four inches of water and were assisted by fire departments, he said.

Throughout the entire storm, less than 10 people in Sewickley Township were without power, which Rupnik attributed to utility company preparedness.

“They did a lot of power line clearing over the last year in the township, so we're appreciative of that for sure,” Rupnik said.

Only minor basement flooding was reported in West Newton.

Little Sewickley Creek crested a foot before any action had to be taken with Lowber Road, said Lowber fire Chief Brian Nicholls.

“We kept a close eye on it for 36 hours and it started receding, so we went home,” he said.

Downed tree limbs were cleaned up on Lowber and Cool Springs roads.

No flooding was reported in Sutersville, although the swift water rescue team with the fire department did an equipment check preparing for the storm, said safety officer Dan Landini, Jr.

In preparing for the storm, generators, sump pumps flashlights and batteries were among the most popular items purchased at Williams Ace Hardware outside West Newton, said store manager Jen Todd.

On Oct. 27, the store sold four generators, which were sent by locals to family members along the East Coast, she said.

“Everybody was just getting ready in case it flooded, power went out,” Todd said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or

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