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Carnegie/Bridgeville

Carnegie residents by Chartiers Creek losing backyards to flooding

| Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
When the stream behind Debra May’s home in Carnegie swelled during a June storm, it toppled embankment retaining walls and sunk nearly half of her backyard.
When the stream behind Debra May’s home in Carnegie swelled during a June storm, it toppled embankment retaining walls and sunk nearly half of her backyard.

Several Carnegie residents who live along a tributary of Chartiers Creek said the stream’s tendency to swell with rainwater is taking a toll on their property. For Debra May, it’s resulted in the toppling of embankment walls and has sunk nearly half of her backyard.

May said the damage to the walls and her property was caused by the June storm that flooded parts of Carnegie and devastated neighboring Bridge­ville. May said the trouble in her backyard first began when it was damaged in 2004 by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.

“Believe it or not, we used to have a swimming pool in that backyard,” May said. “I grew up there. It was a functional, whole yard.”

The borough is responsible for embankment upkeep north of the bridge on Morrow Avenue spanning the stream, while the Army Corps of Engineers was thought to be responsible for walls south of the bridge. Corps officials last month inspected May’s yard and those of her neighbors but said recently that they do not have jurisdiction over those homes after all, according to current flood control project boundaries.

Charles Infantino, emergency manager for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District, said the borough should pursue repairs on its own and apply to have the embankment brought into a Corps program called Public Law 8499. The program would provide insurance for the embankment after its reconstruction and fund 80 percent of any future repair fees should it be damaged again in the future.

“That would be the best process,” Infantino said.

Carnegie Borough Manager Steve Beuter said the municipality has been aware of flood damage in that part of town for some time but is awaiting official correspondence from the Corps before taking the next step. Borough workers last month removed from the stream concrete slabs that had dislodged from the embankment in May’s backyard and laid them back against the soil, per Corps recommendation.

Beuter said the borough will continue to work with the Corps to find a solution.

The back and forth has proved frustrating for residents. May and neighbor Terry Hart, who said her backyard is beginning to sink in places, have complained to the Carnegie borough council several times since June.

“You get one story from the borough, and you get another story from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Hart said.

Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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