Flood cleanup in Bridgeville continues following heavy rain
Donald Burris and his family were home when flood waters came rushing into their Baldwin Street home Wednesday night in Bridgeville.
The 37-year-old, along with his wife and two children, ages 19 and 12, had to sit on their roof before being rescued by boat.
Burris’ family was among about 30 swift water rescues to occur Wednesday night on his street as heavy rain and flooding swept through parts of Bridgeville, fire Chief Bill Chileo said.
“This is as bad as Ivan,” borough Manager Lori Collins said, referring to Hurricane Ivan that damaged areas of the borough in 2004.
Burris said his family has lived in the house since moving from the Hill District in November 2017. In those nearly eight months, he said the neighborhood has flooded seven times, though never to this extent.
He said most of their belongings on the lower floors of his home were destroyed.
“I don’t make a million dollars a year. I make 12 bucks an hour,” he said. “How do you even recover from this?”
More than 31⁄2 inches of rain fell near Bridgeville between 10 and 11 p.m. Wednesday night.
The body of an Upper St. Clair woman reported missing during the flooding was found Thursday morning near the Bridgeville fire station, officials said. Police were investigating.
As of late Thursday morning, many Bridgeville roads remained closed, including McLaughlin Run Road, Baldwin Street, Railroad Street, Bower Hill Road, Carol Avenue and Commercial Street. Water was reported as high as eight feet in some places.
A portion of a retaining wall along Bower Hill Road was destroyed, Collins said.
Multiple homeowners reported first floor flooding, she said.
Allegheny County and PEMA representatives assessed damage to the area throughout the morning and early afternoon, with the Red Cross readying to assist displaced residents.
Karen Zatta-Martin, president and general manager of Blanc Printing, said her Baldwin Street business took on between five and six feet of water. Much of the equipment inside was submerged, she said, causing close to $1 million in damage.
“It looked like a river was rolling down,” she said. “We were just launching a new entity … to work out of this location, too. So it couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
Tony Sikorski said his Baldwin Street garage took on almost eight feet of water, submerging the 1956 Buick Special inside that he recently finished restoring. This is the second time, he said, that the car was damaged in a flood.
“This time I got it reupholstered and everything,” he said. “There’s water in the engine and everywhere else.”
On Thursday, borough workers and those from nearby municipalities helped clear mud and other debris from streets with power shovels.
Tiffany Vandergriff and her mother Lisa DeJesus, who live on nearby Union Street, stopped over to watch construction vehicles remove debris from McLaughlin Run at the Bower Hill Road bridge.
Vandergriff said she has lived in Bridgeville on and off since 2008 and has seen flooding there, but never this bad.
“I’m staying home today,” she said.
Kristina Serafini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KristinaS_trib. Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.