Back-to-back storms pound Allegheny County, prompt emergency rescues |

Back-to-back storms pound Allegheny County, prompt emergency rescues

Matt Provenzo | Tribune-Review
Puckety Creek near Myers Drive in Plum rages over its banks on Monday, July 22, 2019.
Emergency responders had to use boats to rescue residents of a mobile home park along Kirk Road in Plum Borough after heavy rain caused flash flooding on Monday, July 22, 2019.
Matt Provenzo | Tribune-Review
Puckety Creek in Upper Burrell rages over its banks near Greensburg Road at Myers Drive on Monday, July 22, 2019.
Heavy rains continued early Monday, July 22 afternoon causing flooding and road closures throughout Penn Hills. Scene on Jefferson Road across from the Penn Hills Elementary School entrance.

Heavy rain storms that pounded the region Sunday through Monday afternoon caused widespread flooding and damage, and emergency responders in several communities had to use boats to rescue residents from vehicles and homes.

Eastern suburbs, including Penn Hills and Plum, appeared to be among the hardest-hit communities in storms that brought an average of 3 inches of rain or more through Monday afternoon.

Flooding and landslides spurred road closures across Western Pennsylvania, from Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh to Freeport Road in O’Hara to residential yards saturated with overflowing creek water in Upper Burrell and Plum.

The inundation brought the Pittsburgh region’s total rainfall this year to 32.18 inches — the most year-to-date ever and more than 2.32 more than this time last year, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Moon said. The 2019 total already is more than a half-inch more than the second-highest year-to-date total set in 1951.

‘It’s never been this bad’

Emergency responders had to use boats to help residents get out of their homes along Kirk and Salisbury roads in Plum, officials said.

Water rose quickly overnight and in the early morning, submerging vehicles and leaving roads impassable.

Swift-water rescues also were performed along Pittsburgh’s South Braddock Avenue; Jefferson, Creek and Saltsburg roads in Penn Hills; and along Larimer Avenue in Turtle Creek.

Universal Road in Penn Hills was closed for a time Monday because debris and fallen trees blocked the roadway.

“We were hit unusually hard last night,” Penn Hills EMS Supervisor Diane Fitzhenry said.

Plum Councilman John Anderson said damage to the baseball fields along New Texas Road was extensive.

“The fields are a disaster,” Anderson said. “We’ve had a number of big storms over the years, but none of them did the damage that this flash flood did. Fences are torn down, turf is ripped up.”

Anderson could not provide an estimate on how much it would cost to repair the baseball complex. Borough officials said “unprecedented” flooding would likely require about a week’s worth of repair work.

The new Monday Market at Plum Creek Park along New Texas Road also was canceled because of flash flooding.

Marie Bonura of Bonura Cabinets in Plum said that area on Saltsburg Road is prone to flooding but “it’s never been this bad.”

“We had tires, a gas tank … all in our parking lot this morning,” Bonura said as she took a break from sweeping and shoveling mud from the company’s parking lot. “There was one to two inches (of water) inside … it’s totally destroyed.”

The storms also caused thousands of dollars of damage to the baseball fields at Creekside Park on Dark Hollow Road in Oakmont, Trib news partner WPXI-TV reports.

The emergency flood gates were deployed along Pittsburgh’s Washington Boulevard after numerous vehicles became trapped in rising water. No injuries were reported.

Flood waters were so strong at the Meadows Apartments in Penn Hills that vehicles were moved and a fence was knocked down, WPXI-TV said.

Much of the flooding stemmed from heavy rain that fell Sunday and saturated the ground, swelling waterways. More rainfall Monday magnified the problems.

Creeks overflow into yards, homes

The second batch of downpours struck early Monday afternoon, prompting a three-hour flash flood warning for much of the region through 4 p.m.

“We have two acres and the creek is all flowed over, it’s just all creek now,” Joy Everhart, 58, said shortly after 2 p.m. at her Greensburg Road home near the Murrysville-Upper Burrell border.

She and her 90-year-old father had barely finished ridding their basement of a few inches of water when the next round of storms hit and filled it up again. She said runoff from area roads flows into Puckety Creek and floods the nearby homes.

About a mile away, Pam and Lou Daugherty watched alongside their daughter, Maria, as the water finally receded from a giant pool that flooded the intersection of Old Leechburg Road and Myers Drive along Greensburg Road in Plum. The family had the same problem happen a few weeks ago and has been in touch with PennDOT to find a solution but have been having issues because the area borders Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

“We cleaned up this morning, and now we’ve got to do it all over again,” said Pam Daugherty, 58.

Once the rain subsided and fire trucks cleared the intersection, a neighbor tried making progress on his own, digging muck from the runoff and drainage areas.

Lou Daugherty, 64, said he recently spoke to a PennDOT official about the problem and the need to dredge a nearby creek.

The PennDOT official “said it’s on the list, but they’ve got a lot of other stuff going on right now, too,” Lou Daugherty said.

Cool, dry temps ahead

After the storms passed, residents enjoyed the respite of a lingering cold front.

By 3 p.m., the temperature outside Pittsburgh International Airport dropped below 65 degrees — the coolest it’s been in a week, the weather service said.

Temperatures in the Alle- Kiski Valley fell nearly 30 degrees lower than just 24 hours before.

The rest of the week is set to remain cool and dry, with the dew point lingering in the upper 50s through Friday, with lows in the mid-60s and highs in the low to mid-80s, the weather service said.

Allegheny County’s public pools, which closed Monday amid the storms, are scheduled to reopen 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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