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West Newton looks at drainage in flood

| Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

West Newton officials said on Monday that they are considering asking Westmoreland County for funds to help alleviate drainage problems that may have caused flooding on Saturday night.

About a dozen homes were affected and topsoil was washed away, destabilizing an embankment and exposing 30 feet of a sanitary sewer.

Paul Williams, the borough's emergency management director, told council at its workshop session that the borough could apply to the county Department of Public Safety for a hazard mitigation grant to help repair or possibly install storm drainage pipes or catch basins because existing lines may not be sufficient to handle the flow of water during heavy rains.

Randy Shincovich, the borough's public works supervisor, said he intends to discuss the problem with the borough's engineer on Tuesday. Williams said he would wait for the results of that meeting before requesting any funds from the county.

Daniel Stevens, a spokesman for the county's Department of Public Safety, said when contacted after the meeting that the county has spent the federal money it received for the hazard mitigation grant program in the wake of President Obama's October 2012 disaster declaration arising from the damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy. The borough could submit an application for any funds that might become available, Stevens said.

The storm on Saturday exposed 30 feet of a sewer line along Orr Road, which borders Rostraver on the town's west side. The rushing water rerouted an unnamed creek along Orr Road, destabilizing an embankment and exposing the sewer line, Shincovich said. In order to restore the embankment along the stream, Shincovich said he will have to apply to the Westmoreland County Conservation District for a permit.

The storm buckled several driveways along Vernon Drive when water overflowed drainage ditches along the road, Shincovich said.

Some homeowners' basements flooded with water backing up from clogged sewer lines, he said. That problem usually occurs only during times of heavy rainfall, which occurred over the weekend when almost 3 inches of rain fell on the town, according to the rain gauge at the sewer plant, Shincovich said.

As a result of the storm, West Newton firefighters were busy pumping the basements of about a dozen flooded homes, Williams said.

“They were pretty busy. They were running crazy,” Williams said.

West Newton fire Chief Craig Sanner could not be reached for comment on the flooding.

The borough has submitted an application to the U.S. Geological Survey for a new digital flood gauge to be installed in the Youghiogheny River, Williams said. The borough has one gauge upstream of the West Newton Bridge, and a water level sign is attached to a bridge pier.

In other matters, Williams told council that borough police and emergency responders will join the Yough School District in conducting an emergency drill from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 23 at West Newton Elementary School.

Details regarding the drill have not been finalized, Williams said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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