Rain washes out road, blamed in death of Perryopolis man in Perry Township
A Fayette County man died on Saturday when a heavy downpour that caused flooding washed out a section of road he was traveling on, state police at Belle Vernon said.
Thomas Whipkey, 37, of Perryopolis was killed about 1 a.m. after the torrential rain carved a culvert on Falbo Road in Perry Township, police said.
Whipkey did not realize the road was no longer there as he traveled south in the deluge and darkness, police said.
He suffered a head injury, authorities said.
The early morning storm dumped upward of 3 inches of rain in some areas in a short period and flooded more than 50 basements in Fayette and Westmoreland counties, according to emergency officials and Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.
Fire crews were busy pumping out basements.
Flooding was especially prevalent in the Jacobs Creek and Smithton sections of Westmoreland County, emergency officials said. A few roads were temporarily closed.
“It's a mess,” Larry Nemec, Turkeytown fire chief, said of homes in Jacobs Creek.
“It dumped a lot of water at one time, and the creek couldn't handle it. It flooded the lower end of Jacobs Creek,” he said.
Firefighters responded to at least 40 calls on Saturday morning, all for flooded basements, Nemec said. He said he saw no water in the upper floors of homes.
Emergency accommodations were set up at the Turkeytown fire station. Three or families stayed there until later in the morning, Nemec said.
Another family was put up in a hotel after the American Red Cross was called.
Light rain was falling when Shannon Brame of Dunbar went to bed about midnight.
Two hours later, she heard a neighbor pounding on her Church Street door. The rainfall — and her life — had changed.
“It was a river,” Brame said. “It looked like our house was in the middle of a river. We couldn't leave.”
A Fayette County emergency dispatcher reported more than 30 basements in Dunbar and Dunbar Township were being pumped out by firefighters from five companies because Dunbar Creek overflowed its banks.
The county's swift-water rescue team was on standby but did not have to go out on calls, the 911 dispatcher said.
“People lost dryers, washers, furnaces, hot water tanks,” said Rob Grover, Dunbar road supervisor. “There's a lot of mud in basements. It's a bad situation.”
He said borough, fire, PennDOT and other crews were busy cleaning streets. Main Street in the borough was shut down for a while because of debris, Grover said.
“There's been so many good people pitching in,” he added.
Brame's basement was among those flooded.
“We got 3 feet of water in our basement,” she said. “Hopefully our furnace and washer and dryer are good.”
“We have a backhoe in front of my house shoveling ... up mud and debris,” she said.
Water surrounded her car, Brame said, and got inside a neighbor's vehicle.
Another neighbor had water come into her kitchen and living room, she said.
Flooding this time was worse than what happened 13 months ago, she said.
No other flooding has occurred during her seven years in her home.
Brame's grandson, Aden, 5, slept through the storm and awoke about 10 a.m. to discover what had happened.
“He was very shocked, definitely,” Brame said.
She, like others struck by the downpour, hoped no more rain would come anytime soon.
“Hopefully, the water will stay down so we can clean up the mess,” Brame said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Inaugural food, toy drive slated for Connellsville
- Everson volunteer firefighters set to sell hoagies
- Connellsville burning rules set to kick in
- Connellsville man admitted drinking, fighting with victim before deadly 2013 crash, trooper testifies
- Connellsville man ready to cash in on discovery coin
- Connellsville Area High School Chamber Ensemble awaiting word on sing-off
- Fallen Perryopolis police officer chased his dream
- Fayette County judge refuses to dismiss dragging case against Hiller man
- Prothonotary’s office in Fayette County just the ticket for passports
- ArtWorks Connellsville hires gallery manager
- Nurse’s efforts debated in Fayette County infant’s death