Residents in Red Rock area of Ligonier Township evacuated
Firefighters and rescue teams manning boats evacuated residents in the Red Rock area of Ligonier Township Friday evening as the remains of Tropical Depression Cindy drenched the region, causing water to rise rapidly in Four Mile Run.
Flooding also caused evacuations in Fayette County, where officials declared a state of emergency.
John Beaufort, Ligonier Township emergency management coordinator, said about 9 p.m. that residents were voluntarily evacuated from homes along Goldenrod Lane and Giesey and Red Rock roads because of the swollen stream.
Beaufort said the water in the run had been “high all day, and then it all came up pretty sudden. We got a lot of rain out toward Donegal and Stahlstown. It takes a while for it to hit here, but it's here.”
While the water was shooting over a bridge on Goldenrod Lane, he said volunteers still were able to wade through water above their knees.
The water started to recede by 10:30 p.m., according to Darlington Fire Chief Bob McDowell. He reported four adults, two children and some pets were brought to safety, electing to stay with relatives instead of at the fire hall.
“We notify them and let them know the water is rising,” township police Chief Mike Matrunics said of affected residents. “If they don't want to come out, we can't force them.”
Firefighters from the township and Ligonier Borough were assisted by volunteers from New Alexandria, Lloydsville and Bradenville.
The Red Rock area has been prone to flooding, with 11 people evacuated when giant chunks of ice clogged Four Mile Run on March 4, 2015.
The local Loyalhanna Watershed Association received a $328,000 state grant last year to begin a three-year effort to address sections of Four Mile Run that are prone to erosion and flooding.
Flooding affected other areas of the township. Matrunics reported motorists were rescued from vehicles that became stuck in high water on Rector and Peoples roads. A similar rescue occurred on Route 381, while Idlewild Hill Road was impassable because of high water, McDowell said.
At least three people were evacuated from areas of high water in Fayette County, the county Emergency Management Agency reported. Evacuees from Redstone Township, which earlier declared an emergency, and Menallen Township, which declared a disaster, were offered shelter at the Republic Volunteer Fire Company social hall.
The county's Hazardous Materials and Water Rescue teams were among units responding.
Mt. Pleasant was another community hit hard by the storm with flooding soaking many basements and temporarily closing sections of some roads including Kennedy Avenue, Church Street and a ramp at routes 119 and 31.
“It's everywhere,” Mt. Pleasant fire Chief Jerry Lucia said of the rising water. “We have every available man out. I never saw it that bad.”
A flash flood watch, meaning that flash floods are possible in sudden downpours, was announced through 2 a.m. Saturday for Allegheny, Armstrong, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties. A flood warning, meaning there are areas with flooding in progress, was issued for parts of Indiana and Armstrong counties.
The warm, moist air coming northward from Cindy met a slow-moving cold front in the region, turning into heavy rains and thunderstorms, said Joe Palko, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Moon.
“You can just feel it in the air. It's almost like you're in Miami,” Palko said. “Whenever a storm forms, it's going to be torrential rains.”
The weather service estimated 3 to 4 inches of rain initially fell in Indiana County, with another 2.5 inches possible across the region.
Flash flooding in Indiana is to blame for one drowning death and washing away vehicles and train cars .
PennDOT District 10 reported that flooding and flood damage in Indiana County had closed Route 422 in both directions between Route 56 and Five Points Road in Indiana; Anthony Run Road in Armstrong Township was closed between Route 422 and Curry Run Road; and Rearick Road in Young Township was closed from Wertz to Gazda roads Friday morning.
In Baldwin Borough, Alle‑gheny County, Schuette Road was closed between Streets Run Road and Willett Road for repairs to retaining walls collapsed by earlier flooding.
Areas already coping with recent floods are in for more bad news, since rain falling in areas where the ground is already saturated will cause flooding more rapidly, Palko said.
Matthew Santoni contributed to this report. Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jhimler_news.