Downpour strands motorists, cuts power to 4,000 near Pittsburgh
By Matthew Santoni and Pat Cloonan
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
As emergency management officials began assessing damage in 12 Allegheny County municipalities swamped by last week's flooding, another torrential downpour struck on Wednesday, causing even more problems.
Five motorists were trapped in their cars on Boston Hollow Road in Elizabeth Township, where the National Weather Service estimates that 1.86 inches of rain fell on saturated ground in an hour or less.
“We found five cars in the water,” said Glassport fire Chief Wayne Lewis, Mon-Yough river supervisor for the county's Swiftwater/Flood Response Team. “We rescued individuals by boat. All were treated and released (by paramedics.)”
One resident, John Mihaljevich, said flooding on the Youghiogheny River in Boston is the worst that he can remember.
“It's terrible. We never had water in the yard like that in 33 years,” he said.
Flooding and storm damage were reported in a number of other communities — such as McKeesport — that were reeling from thunderstorms, lightning strikes and flooding on Tuesday.
Duquesne Light crews were still working to restore power from the earlier storm, when 4,000 customers lost service, said utility spokesman Joey Vallarian.
The storms erupted as county, federal and state emergency management officials began assessing previous damage to homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructures to determine how much financial aid they may be eligible to receive, said Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs.
The inspections are required to secure aid from Pennsylvania and federal emergency management agencies.
Officials toured parts of Bridgeville, Mt. Oliver, Oakdale, Scott, South Park and Upper St. Clair on Wednesday. They are scheduled to visit Clairton, Elizabeth Borough, Elizabeth Township, Forward, Jefferson Hills and West Elizabeth on Thursday.
Oakmont fire Chief Bill Hartman hoped the agencies would come through with funding to offset extra costs shouldered during the flood response, such as overtime for police and public works employees and trash bin rentals.
“Basically, it's a waiting game now with PEMA and FEMA to see where we go from there,” said Hartman, the borough's emergency management coordinator.
Emergency responders gathered preliminary information on homes and businesses hit by flooding during their initial response, and local and county officials followed up in subsequent days.
In Bridgeville, borough Manager Lori Collins went door to door with county officials last Thursday to ask residents about the extent of damage to each home and business along flood-soaked Baldwin Street.
Matthew Santoni and Pat Cloonan are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Staff writers Aaron Aupperlee, Michael DiVittorio, Liz Zemba, Michael Hasch and photographer Cindy Shegan Keeley contributed to this report.
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