Flood-stricken Bridgeville neighborhoods continue to rebuild
It’s been exactly six months since McLaughlin Run, engorged by a summer downpour, spilled over onto several Bridgeville streets; damaging dozens of residential and commercial properties and killing one person. The process of rebuilding has for some been a long one, the end of which may only just now be in sight.
It’s difficult to say how many residents were affected by the flood; not all of the 100-plus residences that Borough Manager Lori Collins estimated were damaged are single-family dwellings. A relief fund established by the Borough of Bridgeville through Brentwood Bank, though, has so far disbursed 165 checks worth $450 apiece to those who applied for assistance.
Collins said the remaining funds will be released through another round of checks come January.
A federal disaster declaration from FEMA — and accompanying federal relief funds — appears increasingly unlikely, Collins said.
Requests for home furnishings, meanwhile, continue to trickle in even now to the First United Methodist Church, which acted as a Red Cross relief center after the June 21 flood. The church raised approximately $30,000 in donations for various flood-related relief efforts, said Cindy Womer, the church member who helped to oversee them.
“We’ve come so far, and I know that everybody that we’ve helped is so grateful,” said Womer “It’s the spirit of paying it forward and giving, especially now with Christmas coming.”
Some owners of businesses disrupted by the flood are still recovering, as well, and eager to reopen their doors in the New Year.
“We love what we do here; we love the animals,” said Teresa Davis, whose dog kennel and grooming business, The Canine Club, lost five dogs to the flood. “We miss the dogs. And seeing that our customers want us to come back also is a big plus.
“That building has been through a lot. … I’d hate to walk away from it with all the history there,” she said about the Baldwin Street building that had approximately $150,000 in damage from the flood and could reopen by January.
The Railyard Grill and Tap Room on Railroad Street, which opened in 2016, has likewise remained closed for renovation. The flood swept through the restaurant’s dining room and bar, as well as its basement storage area.
Management could not provide a cost estimate for the damage, but said the extent of restoration work — which includes the purchase of new furniture and the reconstruction of the bar — speak to the severity. No official date has been set, they said, but the Railyard will reopen in 2019.
“There’s a lot of anticipation in the community for us to reopen, but we want to do the right way,” said General Manager Jeremy Robinson.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community. The whole goal of this place was to be a community restaurant.”
Officials from Bridgeville, Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss flood projects in their respective municipalities, said Collins. He said Bridgeville has also discussed projects with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Conservation District that would require their permission.
Collins said that the borough’s engineers are in the process of determining project viability and cost estimates, which have not yet been made. The enlarging of a culvert on Commercial Street where Chartiers Creek empties into McLaughlin Run, one of several projects the borough is weighing, could cost in excess of $1 million. Other projects include the lowering of the ball field in McLaughlin Run Park, allowing it to flood and retain water in the event of heavy rainfall.
The borough has already repaired a portion of retaining wall along Maple Street that was damaged in the flood.
Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review ontributor.