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Damage minimal in Valley

| Monday, Sept. 20, 2004

Not a single basement was flooded in the river town community of Fayette City.

Fayette City Fire Chief Jim Eley Jr. called it a miracle, as his little borough has been hit hard by flooding over the years.

"It's about time we got spared," Eley said.

As the wrath of Hurricane Ivan dumped inches of rain on the Mon Valley all day Friday, only minor flooding was reported.

"It's kind of ironic that the places that were the least affected were the river towns," Washington County Public Safety Director Jeff Yates said.

Around the Mon Valley, basements were flooded in Monongahela and New Eagle near Pigeon Creek.

In Bentleyville, roads bordering Pigeon Creek also were closed Friday night as the stream spilled over its banks.

Yates said many of the reports of flooding in the Mon Valley were in homes that often have water in their basements during normal rainstorms.

The Monongahela River crested at 26.3 feet at 1 a.m. Saturday at Lock and Dam 4 in North Charleroi. Flood stage is 28 feet.

While no major damage was reported in the Mon Valley, county 911 dispatchers and emergency officials and firefighters were busy nevertheless, as communities in the northern and middle sections of the county were declared disaster areas.

Canton Township, Burgettstown, Avella and other neighboring towns sustained major damage from creeks flooding. The rain also caused landslides and roads to be washed away during the storm.

Yates said the 911 telephone lines were busy for more than four hours Friday night. While the Mon Valley was spared, Yates said the flooding could have been much worse had the Cheat River in West Virginia received more rain.

"If the Cheat River Valley would have been hit hard, we could have had another flood of 1985 on our hands," Yates said.

Yates said people affected by flooding should take photos of the damage before they clean up.

President Bush declared Washington, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clearfield, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties to be disaster areas.

Yates said federal disaster offices will be set up in the near future. Residents will be able to go there to apply for federal aid. Additional Information:

More Photos

Click here to view photos of flooding in the region.

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