Flooding smacks Fayette County
An elderly woman had to be rescued from her home and a mobile home was lifted off its foundation when floodwaters swept through parts of Fayette County overnight Tuesday.
The county and four communities — Dunbar and South Connellsville boroughs and Dunbar and North Union townships — declared states of emergency in the wake of flooding some residents described as the most damaging in decades.
“In all the years I've been here, this is the worst I've ever seen,” said Pete Casini, the South Connellsville mayor who started as a policeman there in 1976. “It looked like a river coming down McCormick Avenue.”
Casini said at least a dozen homes were flooded when water cascaded off Chestnut Ridge near the old Casparis mine, down McCormick, beginning at midnight Tuesday. Homes on McCormick and Wine Street were among those inundated.
“Many homes had water in their basements, and they lost everything,” Casini said. “I had one lady tell me she lost $25,000 worth of stuff.”
In North Union, firefighters rescued 87-year-old Nettie Raymond from her home at 212 Yauger Hollow Road when rising waters from Cove Run filled her basement, said her daughter, Cathy Vansickle. She stays with her mother at night because she is on oxygen.
“The (North Union) fire department had to get us out,” said Vansickle.
Vansickle said the creek began to rise around 11 p.m., and floodwaters were at her mother's porch when firefighters drove through high water to ferry them to safety.
Yauger Hollow Road resident Tom Barnhart said the street “looked like rapids.” His home atop a hillside was not damaged.
North Union Supervisor Tom Kumor estimated damage to township roads at $1 million.
Yauger Hollow Road has reopened, he said, but cleanup continues. The township must consider a solution to prevent flooding along Cove Run, he said. That could include dredging the stream and stabilizing its banks. “It's going to be a lot of time and a lot of money,” Kumor said.
Kumor said he worries that large trees along Cove Run might topple because the ground is saturated.
In Dunbar Township, Nancy and Dave Phillips of Church Hill Road noticed Gist Run rising rapidly at 11:30 p.m. Their home and a double-wide mobile home owned by their daughter and son-in-law, Kelli and Jim Kubicek, sit next to the creek.
The fast-moving water carried large trees down the creek, where some became lodged under two bridges, they said. When the stream ran over its banks, it twisted the mobile home and moved it 6 feet off its foundation, said Nancy Phillips.
Phillips said a tenant was moving into the mobile home, but left just before it ripped away.
She said the water swept a metal storage shed 50 feet across their yard, tore away a vinyl picket fence, and ripped stones from a rock wall along the riverbank. It left mud and sand in their basement, garage and in-ground pool.
Next door, Stanley Klink, 61, surveyed the damage to his business, Dunbar Auto Repair Inc. He said three-quarters of the lot was flooded, miring several cars in mud, flattening a chain-link fence and carrying a large metal receptacle several hundred feet down Church Hill Road.
One car, Klink said, was lifted briefly but did not float off the lot.
“That water's powerful, man,” Klink said as he waited for an insurance adjuster to arrive.
At least 14 homes were flooded when Dunbar Creek overran its banks in Dunbar Borough, said Jason Bartholomai, emergency management coordinator for the borough. Some basements had water as high as 5 feet, he said.
Norman Gordon, council president, said the creek touched the bottom of a railroad bridge near Connellsville and Woodvale streets.
“Water was splashing up under the (railroad) ties,” Gordon said. Officials considered evacuating some homes but then the water began to recede, she said.
Gordon said the flooding could possibly have been prevented, had a long-delayed “creek channeling” project been completed. He said the project has been in the works for four decades and calls for dredging the creek, stabilizing its banks and improving drainage.
John Poister, spokesman with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said a project is in the planning phase but additional details were not immediately available Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Susan Griffith of Fayette County Emergency Management Agency said the 911 center received 121 calls for flooding, beginning at 10:30 p.m. Monday. A bridge at Turkeyfoot and Coolspring-Jumonville roads in North Union is closed indefinitely because of flood damage, she said.
Nearly 4 inches of rain fell on the county within a 24-hour period, said John Darnley of the National Weather Service in Moon. Most of it fell between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Tuesday.
“Anytime you get that amount of rain in that amount of time, you're going to have problems,” Darnley said. “It's not something that happens all the time.”
Darnley said the ground was already saturated from a rainy June. The Connellsville area, he said, recorded 5.79 inches of rain in June, compared to the average of 4.33 inches.
Liz Zemba and Karl Polacek are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Zemba can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Polacek can be reached at 724-626-3538.
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.
- $3.5M glass sculpture’s story begins, ends in rural community of Dunbar
- Westmoreland County hopes to fill 3 departments head positions soon
- Discord between Westmoreland commissioner, controller draws 2nd criminal inquiry
- Georgia pair accused of jury duty phone scam in Pittsburgh likely behind attempted ones in Westmoreland
- Need to vote on rules for rentals in Jeannette called ‘dire’
- Mistaken identity leads to drug bust at Westmoreland County Courthouse
- Mother, son accused of robbing woman in Greensburg
- Applications available for state police Camp Cadet program
- Greensburg plastic surgeon pleads not guilty to charges of interfering with painkiller investigation
- Wyano woman accused of sex with 15-year-old boy
- Hyde Park woman will stand trial on charges she had sex with a teenage boy