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Floodstock to rock for victims of June floods

| Friday, July 31, 2009

Trafford resident Billy Beggs has organized Floodstock, a daylong benefit concert to be held Sunday at the Irwin Park Amphitheater in downtown Irwin, to help raise funds for the Salvation Army in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.

The concert was organized in response to flooding that hit the community after a summer storm.

"When I started to wrap my head around the devastation, I realized that a lot of working-class families went to bed one night only to wake up the next day to find a lot of their things destroyed," Beggs said.

"That's unacceptable, and it made me want to get out and do something for them."

He turned to his friends in the local music scene.

"I know a bunch of bands and just started making phone calls," he said. "That's how the whole thing got started."

Beggs, who is a drummer, said he organized the 10 local acts performing at the show in an attempt to appeal to all musical tastes. The music ranges from country, oldies and bluegrass to modern and alternative rock.

Each band agreed to play the show at no cost to the organizers, Beggs said, and all of the food vendors are donating one-third of their profits to the Salvation Army.

Robert Myers, the director of emergency services for the Salvation Army, said it provided about $220,000 in relief efforts after the floods.

In seven days, Salvation Army officials handled 220 cases in Westmoreland County and distributed more than 2,500 meals. In Allegheny County, it handled 586 cases and provided more than 3,000 meals and about $30,000 in clean-up kits and supplies.

"It had a significant impact, since we didn't budget for something of this magnitude," Myers said.

Myers said the tight economy has made offering any relief more difficult. Aside from the flood relief efforts, Myers said the group has been struggling with an increase in families seeking daily assistance.

"We step out in faith to do this job and do the work, and anything someone can do to support us, especially in this economy, we really appreciate," he said.

State Sen. Kim Ward, a Hempfield Republican, helped him secure the amphitheater and got the fees waived.

"Everybody immediately came together to make this happen," Beggs said.

Irwin Park amphitheater, he said, was the perfect place for the show because it's located almost exactly between Pittsburgh and Greensburg.

J.J. Mason, guitarist for Justinhale and KISS tribute band Deuce, both playing at Floodstock, saw the effects of June's floods.

Mason, a Level Green resident, said some of his neighbors had water in their basements. He also saw deeper waters when he went to help his fiancee's parents get things out of their flooding basement.

When Beggs contacted the bands about playing at Floodstock, Mason said he was glad to help.

"Right now, people need a distraction so they can forget about their troubles," he said.

"I'm hoping that it will be a huge event, because something like this is good to really help pull the communities together, so everyone can get together and enjoy each other."

Although he started planning the show before FEMA denied disaster relief funding to the Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, Beggs said, the news motivated him to do more.

"It was an incentive to try to make this thing bigger and better," he said. "I'm even more hopeful that even more people will turn out since the FEMA denial."

Additional Information:

Floodstock

What: Floodstock is an all-day concert festival to be held at Irwin Park to benefit the Salvation Army in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

When: Aug. 2, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Gates open at 11 a.m., and the music kicks off at noon with bluegrass band, The Shakers .

Cost: Admission is $10. Children age 10 and under will be admitted free. Tickets will be available at the gate.

Donations: The Salvation Army is accepting food and clothing donations at the gate.

Activities:

Food and refreshments are available from the Texas Roadhouse, Pizza Sienna and Big Frank?s BBQ.

The day will feature appearances from Pittsburgh Steelers players and the 2009 Campus Girls calendar models.

Schedule of performers:

Fire & Sex at 1 p.m.

• folk-country-rockers East Coast Turnaround at 2 p.m.

• pop and rock band The Pulse at 3 p.m.

• former Vogues member Bo Wagner ?s tribute to Frank Sinatra at 4 p.m.

• oldies act Front Page at 5 p.m.

• rock band Justinhale at 6 p.m.

• Christian rockers The Aaron Greer Band at 7 p.m.

• country act Saddle Up at 8 p.m.

• KISS tribute band Deuce at 9 p.m.

Shuttle bus service from Norwin Hills Shopping Center will be available.

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