Torrential rain leads to widespread flooding across Western Pa. |
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Madasyn Czebiniak

Traffic on several roads remained affected in Allegheny County Friday morning after heavy rains pounded Western Pennsylvania Thursday, causing widespread flooding and hazards that shut down major thoroughfares throughout the region.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said those roads spanned from Frazer Township to Crescent Township:

• A bridge on Kittanning Pike near Kirkwood Drive in O’Hara Township has single-lane alternating traffic.

• Log Cabin Road between Little Deer Creek and Butler Logan roads in Indiana and Frazer townships is closed.

• Geyer Road between Mt. Troy Road and Babcock Boulevard in Reserve and Shaler townships has single-lane alternating traffic.

• Fern Hollow Road in Sewickley Hills is closed.

• Route 130/Sandy Creek Road in Penn Hills has single-lane alternating traffic.

• Bocktown Road between Route 51 in Beaver County and Crescent Township is closed.

Two bouts of torrential rain passed through the region Thursday, first causing travel nightmares and flooding during the morning commute and then adding insult to injury later in the morning and into the early afternoon. Nearly all of Allegheny County and parts of Westmoreland County were under a flash flood warning.

Nearly a record

The weather service had recorded at least 2.31 inches at Pittsburgh International Airport as of about 8 p.m., falling short of the record of the daily record of 2.96 inches set in 1971.

NWS also reported Thursday’s rainfall puts the airport’s 2019 total at 30.02 inches, making it the second-wettest year to date and 0.67 inches ahead of last year’s record-setting pace.

Some areas around in the region logged more than 3 inches of rain. A storm spotter measured 4.35 inches in Mt. Washington, the weather service said.

Travel headaches

Southbound traffic on Route 28 was at a standstill for much of the afternoon as motorists were forced off at the Harmar exit and had to use on-ramps to get off the highway at RIDC Park. O’Hara declared a state of emergency because of the heavy rain and flooding.

Route 28 southbound between the 31st Street Bridge and East Ohio Street exits also closed for much of the day, and the Delafield Avenue exit also had to close.

Earlier in the day, Allegheny County reported that two vehicles were stuck on Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh. Public safety spokeswoman Cara Cruz said the floodgates were down and urged drivers to avoid the area.

Washington Boulevard reopened shortly after 8:30 p.m., public safety officials said.

As of 10:30 p.m. Thursday, many other roads throughout the county remained closed or restricted.

Freeport Road mess

PennDOT said flooding closed Freeport Road between Brilliant Avenue and Delafield Avenue in Aspinwall and at the Sunoco station in Blawnox. Freeport Road also had to be closed at the New Kensington bridge going into Springdale Township.

Access to UPMC St. Margaret hospital in Aspinwall from St. Margaret Drive was blocked because of the flooding on Freeport.

Stephanie Stanley, a spokeswoman for UPMC, said the hospital remained fully staffed and operational and the emergency department was open while the road was closed. Ambulances were able to access the hospital using Delafield Avenue.

Some patients were told to park nearby and walk to the hospital, according to police. Elsie Bonazza of Cheswick was already late for an appointment for her hip when she pulled into the KeyBank parking lot near the hospital.

“I don’t want to leave my car here. I’m not sure where else to go. Are they going to tell me?” Bonazza asked.

Veronica Rozic, of Saxonburg, left an hour early for UPMC St. Margaret to make her doctor’s appointment for a follow-up on her foot fracture.

Walking on crutches, Rozic was not parking and walking. Instead, police rerouted here to Route 28, then toward the Highland Park Bridge where she exited at the border of Aspinwall and Sharpsburg. From there, she accessed the hospital through the entrance on Delafield, she said.

Aspinwall work crews had shoveled dirt from the intersection of Freeport Road and Delafield Avenue, allowing traffic from Sharpsburg to enter Delafield and the hospital.

Crews were still cleaning Freeport road as late as 10 p.m., allowing only a single lane of traffic to get by.

Millvale residents respond

Business owners in Millvale — among the county’s most flood-prone areas — were up early Thursday putting sandbags in front of doors and pumping water out of basements.

“There’s about 3 inches of water in our basement,” said Gary Love who owns a building on North Avenue in Millvale.

He’s owned the building for 10 years and said he completely restored it. It houses his wife’s salon, Salon 22, and apartments. He said this is the third time they’ve had flooding like this. The most recent was last summer.

“I hope it’s not as bad this time,” he said.

Marie Mitlesser, an employee at Jean-Marc Chatellier bakery, said they were working to prevent flooding in their basement.

“We did have to turn on our pump,” she said. “We put sand bags in the basement.”

Staff writers Emily Balser, Madasyn Czebiniak, Mike DiVittorio, Natasha Lindstrom, Patrick Varine and Jacob Tierney contributed.

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