Officials assess flood damage in Allegheny, Westmoreland counties as more rain looms |
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Jacob Tierney
James Laughlin, who has lived on Boucher Lane for all of his 75 years, said Wednesday's flood was the worst since 1954. “It was coming down in waves,” Laughlin said Thursday, June 21, 2018, about the water from Loyalhanna Creek as it ripped through the neighborhood.

Officials in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties are working to assess and repair the damage from this week’s floods — while keeping a nervous eye on the sky.

More rainfall is expected over the next few days, which could complicate cleanup efforts.

“If we get more significant rain that washes away what we’ve put in place, we’re back to square one on Monday,” Ligonier Township manager Terry Carella said.

The township has declared a disaster emergency in the hopes of acquiring state and federal funds to help with repairs.

The total cost of the damage has yet to be estimated, but Old Linn Run Road was almost completely washed away and is expected to take more than $300,000 to repair, Carella said.

The township estimates at least 60 structures were damaged. Residents with damage are asked to report it to Carella at 724-238-2725.

Westmoreland County emergency officials are working with municipalities to assess the damage.

“We’ve been in contact with them to get an idea of what were the types of damages … for each of the affected homes and businesses,” county public safety Director Bud Mertz said.

Most of the worst damage was done in communities bordering Loyalhanna Creek: Ligonier, Cook, Latrobe and Derry.

Christian Aid Ministries and other charity groups are helping residents who suffered severe flooding damage, Mertz said.

It’s too early to tell how much state and federal money might be available.

“It’s all based on the damage assessments,” Mertz said. “I don’t want to put out any false hope.”

Allegheny County Emergency Services are doing initial damage assessments with local municipalities and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, according to a statement from Deputy Chief Steve Imbarlina.

Crews are expected to visit hundreds of affected properties.

They started Friday in the South Hills, where more than 60 people had to be rescued from rising floodwaters Wednesday.

Bethel Park declared a state of emergency Wednesday.

Bridgeville saw similar damage after receiving more than 3 inches of rain. More than 30 people were rescued in the borough, and the body of Upper St. Clair resident Wendy Abbott was recovered there after being swept down McLaughlin Run.

Imbarlina said residents should stay alert.

“As more rain is expected, residents are urged to remain aware of the weather and conditions — to ‘turn around, don’t drown’ — and heed all warnings,” he said in a statement.

The boundary between two weather fronts has stalled over the region, resulting in bursts of rain that are expected to continue for the next several days, said National Weather Service meteorologist Myranda Fullerton.

“We’re just going to have waves of this over the next couple days,” she said.

The unusual weather pattern makes it tough to predict how much rain will fall and where, but Southwestern Pennsylvania can expect to see anywhere from another quarter-inch to an inch through Monday, Fullerton said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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