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Fayette village again endures flooding

| Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Without fail, the spring rains bring trouble to the Fayette County village of Grindstone and the Rev. Claude Mitchell.

Mitchell, 68, who lives at 118 E. First St. with his wife, Waujeana, 59, spent much of Monday evening pumping 2 feet of rainwater out of his basement. The water gushed through the foundation of the home all day, Mitchell said.

Since 7 a.m. Monday, more than 2 inches of rain fell on the southern and western parts of the county, said Jack Hughes, a weather observer in Chalk Hill for the National Weather Service.

"This is the worst it's ever been," Mitchell said. "We need some help out here in Grindstone. It's a bad situation when it rains."

Hughes said the steady showers came from a low pressure front that hung over the county.

"That kept rain bands coming from morning to noon to dinner time," Hughes said. "Two inches is not unusual, but it is heavy when there's already so much saturation."

Grindstone fire crews spent the dinner hour pumping out Mitchell's basement before leaving to help other residents. Chief Rich Lenk personally made sure the hardware store remained open long enough for Mitchell to buy a few pumps to continue helping himself.

"It was raining like hell here; we pulled out of the station and there was a garbage can floating down the road," Lenk said. "It's mostly runoff from the fields and roads; the ground's just not taking it. Those poor people probably can't wait for the grass to grow."

The problem is compounded by an ongoing sewer project that has left excavations throughout the borough. That in itself causes Mitchell problems during good weather.

"Even when it's not raining I get up to an inch in the basement sometimes," Mitchell said.

Mitchell's sidewalk was also flooded because of street construction in line with the project.

"I can't even walk out of my house to get my mail; I have to go out onto the street," Mitchell said.

Elsewhere, sporadic residential basement and road flooding occurred yesterday in North Union Township and many other areas of the county.

"It's been pretty widespread, from Markleysburg to Uniontown to Masontown," said a Fayette 911 dispatcher.

An attendant at Mayday Manor on Sunshine Hollow Road in German Township said road flooding occurred at about 6:30 p.m.

"Pedestrians and cars were still coming through," the attendant said.

At 9:30 p.m, the National Weather Service declared a flood warning on the Youghiogheny River at Connellsville, anticipating that waters there would crest above the flood stage of 12 feet after midnight.

"That Yough comes up fast; it's a small river so it rises and falls very quickly," Hughes said.

No injuries or deaths were reported in the flooding, said Fayette 911.

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