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Cleanup continues from flooding, mudslides

| Saturday, Jan. 8, 2005

Cleanup from flooding and slides wrought by this week's rains continued Friday across the Alle-Kiski Valley. Crews were able to open most roads in the hardest-hit communities.

In South Buffalo, work remained along River Road, and a slide in the Murphy's Bottom Road area needed repaired. Supervisor Ron Covone said no residents were affected by the slide and that it did not hinder traffic.

"All major routes are clear," Covone said.

The supervisor said some box culverts collapsed Friday but crews were able to repair them.

Covone said he had concerns the rain forecasted to move into the area Friday night might cause more slides and flooding.

"It has me kind of worried," he said.

Lower Burrell Councilwoman Irene Karrs said crews were able to repair most slides and washouts. A slide along Metcalf Road still is in need of repair, although she said the property owner would be responsible for it. The slide was not affecting traffic, she said.

Karrs said she had concerns about the level of the Allegheny River, which was slightly below street level Friday evening in the Braeburn section of the city.

Markle and Braeburn roads reopened Friday.

Other Westmoreland County roads such as White Cloud in Allegheny Township and Upper Drennan in Upper Burrell also reopened Friday.

In Tarentum, most every slide had been repaired, said Jeff Thomas, borough manager. Cleanup remained behind the borough maintenance garage along Davidson Street, where a slide threatened the building.

A slide along Bull Creek Road near the Exit 14 entrance ramp to Route 28 was repaired Friday. The slide did not tie up traffic.

A Penn Hills family was forced out of their Springwood Drive home late Wednesday after about 20 tons of dirt slide off a hillside and crashed into the side of the house.

Dennis Colaizzi said he and his wife and one son were lucky not to be injured in the incident. The slide struck between the room where Colaizzi and his wife, Marcianna, were watching TV, and a bedroom where their youngest son, Steve, 12, was sleeping.

Colaizzi, who works for Greco Gas & Welding Supplies in Tarentum, said the slide, which happened about 11 p.m., pushed the house about 6 inches off the foundation.

Colaizzi said that as of Friday, the family had gotten about 90 percent of the contents out of the house. He said that if it weren't for his employer, neighbors and friends, he and his family wouldn't have been able to cope with the disaster. Hunter Trucks in Butler loaned the family a vehicle to help with the cleanup.

Colaizzi said he laments that he most likely will have to move out of the neighborhood. He doesn't want to build again on the same spot out of a fear another slide will happen.

"I made this a house," he said, "and my wife made it a home."

National Weather Service meteorologist Ray Visneski said it is unlikely the rain forecast for Friday night and early today will cause more flooding or slides. From 0.5 inches to an inch will fall, he said.

The rain should let up by noon today, he said.

Rain is forecasted for later next week, although it's unlikely major flooding will follow that storm front, Visneski said, because river and stream levels should have subsided.

Additional Information:

Had it snowed

Meteorologists generally say that every 10 inches of snow is worth about 1 inch of rain. That being said, the Alle-Kiski Valley would have seen about 30 inches of snow fall over the latter half of the week. Steady rain started late Tuesday. National Weather Service meteorologist Ray Visneski said that 30 inches of snow likely could have caused serious flooding when it melted. It was either now or later in terms of floods and slides, he said.

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