Cleanup continues after storms tear through parts of Allegheny County
Aspinwall Fire Chief Gene Marsico said he watched Freeport Road turn into a river on Monday night as storms dumped heavy rain across the region and sent emergency crews scrambling to rescue stranded motorists from nearby flooding on Fox Chapel Road and Route 28.
"We had to open up the sewers and try to get that water to recede," Marsico said.
The Blawnox Swiftwater Team, run by fire Chief George McBriar, performed multiple rescues of people trapped in cars along Squaw Run and Field Club roads in Fox Chapel, and others in their homes in lower O'Hara near Margery Drive, where water climbed eight feet in basements.
"We put boats in the water and sent technicians in," he said. "It was a long night because everybody was busy."
One call to Old Freeport Road in O'Hara found a car submerged near the tunnel to Chapel Harbor at the Water.
"You could just barely see the tail lights," McBriar said. "Fortunately, the people were standing on a knoll nearby. They were able to get out."
McBriar also coordinates the Allegheny County Swiftwater Flood Response Team and said he called in certified team members from as far as Elizabeth and Robinson to assist with the calls.
Downed trees made it difficult to navigate some of the streets, he said, and many roads across the Lower Valley were shut down completely, including both directions of Route 28, 6th Street in Sharpsburg and Hunt Road in Fox Chapel.
Most were reopened by today.
More than 15,000 people were without power during the storm; that number hovered at about 1,700 this morning, mostly in Fox Chapel, according to Duquesne Light.
Marsico said the storms ended quickly but clean-up lasted until 2 a.m. and resumed again early today.
In Sharpsburg, "Kittanning Pike and 6th Street were just insanity," Mayor Matt Rudzki said.
"At 6th Street, between High and Clay, the road is completely torn up."
Sharpsburg officials are pinning hopes on a $3.2 million sewer separation project in that location to alleviate routine flooding.
The project is scheduled for summer 2019 and is being paid for by the borough, PennDOT, ALCOSAN, O'Hara and Shaler.
Sharpsburg still working to clear the road of mud and small debris on July 3, 2018. Mayor Matthew Rudzki says he hasn't seen anything this bad since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. pic.twitter.com/Z781V9Cs7u— Nate Smallwood (@nsmallwoodphoto) July 3, 2018
Elsewhere in Sharpsburg, Rudzki said water climbed to the bays of the Sharpsburg fire hall and rose high enough to cover the fire hydrant at the municipal building along Main Street, he said.
"I was in college for Hurricane Ivan (in 2004), so I've never seen water like this before coming this fast and that much volume," he said.
"Luckily, we had no injuries or evacuations."
Main Street remains shut down between 15th and 18th streets while crews use a street sweeper from PennDOT to blast away debris.
Mutual aid from Etna, Millvale, Parkview Fire Department, Cherry City and the city of Pittsburgh were on-hand.
As crews assessed damage in O'Hara, Manager Julie Jakubec declared a state of emergency for the township.
Old Freeport Road remained closed after portions buckled under the powerful flood waters. Crews were spread across the township assessing other issues, including a small landslide in the 1000 block of Powers Run Road.
It was too early for damage estimates to be released, Jakubec said.
In Aspinwall, crews removed three trucks full of asphalt near Fourth Street that washed down from upper Delafield Road, Marsico said.
Manager Melissa Lang-O'Malley said Delafield remains closed today from the Route 28 on-ramp to Valley Drive.
"The asphalt totally crumbled," she said.
The county's public works department is assisting with clean-up in that area.
Marsico said that, at one point, water along Freeport Road rose to three feet while his department worked to open sewers at the corners of Brilliant Avenue and Delafield Road.
"We were able to get the water to recede at corner of Freeport and Brilliant but there's just piles of mud left everywhere," he said.
Early today, the borough's public works department worked with fire volunteers to spray clumps of mud from sidewalks and storefronts that dot the business corridors.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, firstname.lastname@example.org or @tawnyatrib.