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Storms prompt flood warnings in Pittsburgh, surrounding counties

| Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, 12:19 p.m.
Emily Harger | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Mt Lebanon police officers direct traffic at the intersection of Salem Road and Cedar Boulevard in Mt. Lebanon where flooding occurred around 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. with approximately four feet of water, according to Mt. lebanon police. Water levels lowered and only man holes were pushing out water around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

A day of storms flooded roadways and toppled trees on Sunday in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

Firefighters in Monroeville rescued a woman whose car stalled during a flood just before the water began to enter her vehicle.

Deputy fire Chief Robert Bourdon said Station 5 responded at 11:24 a.m. to an unidentified woman who tried to drive through a flooded area on Beatty Road and Old William Penn Highway. He said the water was at the door handle when they arrived.

“And by the time they reached her, it was coming in her driver's door window,” Bourdon said. The woman was not injured.

In Mt. Lebanon, lightning struck St. Bernard Church and put a stop to the music.

“The organ did suffer some damage, and we're looking at that, but the building did not suffer any damage,” said the Rev. Ken Marlovits, parochial vicar at the Catholic church. “Lightning may have struck one of lightning rods, which may have prevented any damage to the church.”

Marlovits said an assessor from the diocese insurance office examined the organ, which stopped working after the lightning strike.

The heaviest rain and storms began about 9:30 a.m., and most road flooding subsided by noon. In some areas, pockets of heavy rain lingered late into the afternoon.

In Westmoreland County, firefighters reported a flooded Rodebaugh Road in Hempfield and downed limbs along Logan Ferry Road in Murrysville. Flooding at Third Avenue and First Street in Sutersville made the road impassable for motorists.

Across the Youghiogheny River in Elizabeth Township, crews were using heavy equipment to clear debris from Nichols Hill and Douglas Run roads, where floodwaters from an abandoned mine covered the roadway.

“Just about every one of our counties had spotty rain of at least an inch,” said Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon.

The weather service issued flood warnings that expired at 12:30 p.m. in Allegheny County and 2 in Westmoreland. Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Armstrong, Indiana, Westmoreland and Fayette counties were under a flash flood watch through the evening.

The Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin had the most rain with 2.08 inches.

In Penn Hills, authorities closed a portion of Rodi Road and responded to reports of cars stranded in high water.

There were reports of flooding on Neville Road on Neville Island because of poor drainage. Officials said they responded to reports of flooding on Route 51 from Overbrook all the way down to Forward. Officials closed roads in Dravosburg, McKeesport and the West End when creeks overflowed their banks. Wind and lightning toppled trees from Ben Avon to Penn Hills, in some case taking wires with them.

Staff writers Mary Pickels and Stacey Federoff contributed to this report.

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