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Flooding strands some Armstrong County residents

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
First Energy Employees servey the storm damage along Quarry Road in South Buffalo on Wednesday August 28, 2013.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Manor Township Fire Chief Jim McAfoose assesses the water level on Skinall Road in Cadogan. Wednesday August 28, 2013
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Jody Cardinal talks with a family member as his father Ralph Cardinal stands stranded at his home along Skinall Road in Cadogan. Wednesday August 28, 2013
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Deputy Sheriff Frankie Shumaker directs traffic at the intersection of Skinall Road and Route 128 in Cadogan. Wednesday August 28, 2013
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Skinall Road looks like a raging river during a flash flood, Wednesday August 28, 2013 in Cadogan as seen from Falsetti's Villa Restaurant's parking lot.

Heavy downpours flooded roads and basements, drenching sections of Armstrong County Wednesday and stranding some residents in their homes.

Skinall Road, in Cadogan, was under at least two feet of water when a nearby creek flooded. The waters rose quickly, trapping Ralph Cardinal in his home.

Cardinal's son, Jody Cardinal, said his father stayed calm while the flood waters rose around his home.

“We're worried about his breathing, since he takes treatments and probably doesn't have electricity available,” Jody Cardinal said.

The Cardinals moved into the home about five years ago and had not seen flood waters rise as high, or as quickly, since moving in, Jody Cardinal said.

During the flood, waters swept over Cardinal's car, moving it across the parking lot, Jody Cardinal said.

“The creek was dredged several years ago to keep this from happening,” he said. “But I don't think anything could have stopped this.”

Manor Township Fire Department brought in Kittanning Hose Co. 6, which provided rescue boats, according to Chief Jim McAfoose.

Eventually, emergency officials brought their rescue efforts to an end, as waters began to subside and Cardinal told them he was not interested in leaving his home, according to Kittanning Hose Co. 6 Chief Scott Kline.

“If he refuses, there's really nothing else we can do — we can't take him out of there against his will,” Kline said. “I'm not going to endanger two men if he's going to refuse to come out.”

Colleen Wolsonovich, an employee at Falsetti's Villa Restaurant on Route 128 near Skinall Road, said flood waters rose quickly, forcing the restaurant to close its doors for the day.

“No one can get in, and we don't have a parking lot available,” Wolsonovich said. “And (Route) 128 was closed, so our employees couldn't even get home.”

The restaurant was not damaged, though the basement and parking lot flooded, and it lost power, she added.

Wolsonovich, who has worked at the restaurant since 1982, said Wednesday's storm is one of the worst she can remember hitting the area.

According to Randy Brozenick, county emergency management director, the rainstorm moved through the county from northwest to southwest.

Ford City, Worthington, Parks, North Buffalo and South Buffalo seemed to be hardest hit, he said.

Armstrong County Commissioner Bob Bower met with Brozenick and Armstrong 911 Coordinator Ronald Baustert at the Emergency Management Center in Rayburn to monitor the situation.

“We've had close to 500 calls in the last two hours,” Baustert said.

Bower pointed out one of the computer monitors, which showed page after page of answered calls waiting to be dispatched.

Most of the calls were reports of flooded basements, flooded roads and downed trees, Baustert said.

He said residents along Glade Run Road in North Buffalo and in Craigsville in the Worthington/West Franklin area had been evacuated from their homes by boat.

School buses were behind schedule as they tried to navigate around flooded roads.

Emergency crews were sent out to clear mud slides along Route 422 in Worthington and along Route 66 in Bethel.

No significant injuries were reported because of the flooding, Baustert said.

By 4 p.m., the incoming calls were easing up and dispatchers were operating in catch-up mode.

Brad Rehak, of the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said between 1.5 and 2.5 inches of rain fell in the western part of Armstrong County during a 12-hour period Wednesday, with total rainfall nearing the 3-inch mark in the Ford City area.

“The worst is definitely over,” Rehak said late Wednesday afternoon.

On Quarry Road in North Buffalo, Dakoda Fickes said he came home from school to find several fallen trees had taken out wires throughout the neighborhood. It also washed out his family's driveway, which he was attempting to repair with a shovel.

A portion of a large tree nearly struck his family's camper, Fickes said.

“The rain has been pretty bad, but it's never really been this bad,” Fickes said. “I was expecting to find some damage, but nothing like this.”

During the height of the storm, PennDOT announced the following road closures because of high water levels:

Route 128 between Bunker Hill Road in North Buffalo and Ford City Road in South Buffalo; Route 3011 (Worthington Slate Lick Road) between Lemmon Hollow Road in West Franklin and Ridge Road in East Franklin; Route 3011 between Yellow Dog Road in West Franklin and Ruffaner Road in North Buffalo; Route 4033 (Lairds Crossing Road) in West Franklin between Route 3011 and Ridge Road; Route 3013 (Nicola Road/Mushroom Farm Road) in West Franklin between Fenelton Road and Route 422; Route 3007 (Glade Run Road) between Route 128 in Cadogan and Pony Farm Road in North Buffalo; Route 3007 between Freeport Road in North Buffalo and Booher Road/Claypoole Road in East Franklin; Route 3023 (Iron Bridge Road) in Buffalo between South Scenic Road and Locust Drive.

Traffic on Route 268 was down to one lane in each direction between Rollings Hills and Ridge Road in East Franklin.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303. Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337.

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