Armstrong County tallies flood damage

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 1:16 a.m.

More than 24 hours after heavy rains ravaged parts of the county, Ford City and Ford Cliff firefighters were still knee deep in muck, pumping out flooded basements.

On Thursday, they were getting to the bottom of Patty Boarts' basement. She owns Boarts Gas Station Grocery Store and Auto Repair in Cadogan.

She said her basement has a 10-foot high ceiling. Floodwater rose just a foot shy of the ceiling Wednesday. All the insulation was ruined.

Boarts said she was thankful to the firefighters for their assistance and was glad that the water didn't reach her store above the basement.

“I'm waiting for my circuit panel to dry out,” she said.

Ford City fire Capt. Steve Arblaster said when the storm hit, “everyone and their brother was helping us.”

Arblaster and firefighter Ray Klukan said a command center was set up at the station with fire Chief Scott Gaiser and assistant chief Bill Oleksak taking calls.

Fire companies from Ford Cliff, Manor Township, Kittanning (1 and 6), Rural Valley, Freeport, Burrell, South Buffalo and Harrison Hills in Natrona Heights all assisted Ford City at some point during the storm, said Arblaster.

“There was debris all over the roads and in houses, with mud in basements,” said Klukan.

He said floodwaters collapsed a basement of a house and a couple of area ponds broke loose of their banks. Ford City Bridge was washed out on one side, and gas meters were submerged along Glade Run Road in Cadogan and had to be shut down for repairs Thursday.

There were at least two reports of raw sewage in basements (one on Fourth Avenue and one on Fifth Avenues) between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to reports received by Armstrong County 911.

Calls to the Ford City Water and Sewage Authority on Thursday were not immediately returned.

In Worthington, a borough-owned playground that had just gotten a fresh application of mulch was surrounded by caution tape on Thursday. Not one shred of mulch was left, and the ground was buckled where asphalt, sod and black landscape fabric had heaved under the force of rising water.

Several residents stopped by to take photos of the damage. One woman shook her head sadly as she surveyed the damage.

She was expecting her first grandchild and had been planning to have the baby shower in the nearby pavilion in a week's time.

Along a nearby stretch of Route 422 the owner of Saxony House Furniture was unable to come to the phone to comment on the flood damage because he was busy cleaning up debris.

In spite of the mess, area shop owners continue to do business.

“There's still lots of mud. I'll bucket it up, take it out and scrub down the walls,” Boarts said. “Then I'll be getting the Clorox out.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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