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Ligonier Township residents survey flood damage | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Ligonier Township residents survey flood damage

Joe Napsha

Homeowners along Loyalhanna Creek in Ligonier Township are surveying the damage caused by a flash flood Wednesday night that brought raging waters in homes and required the rescue of several residents.

Businesses and homeowners also were recovering Thursday from flooding at Latrobe’s Lincoln Road Shopping Center and along nearby streets.

Carolyn Shulik and her family have the messy task of pulling up carpeting from their home along Ligonier Township’s Boucher Lane, which had about 6 inches of water on the first floor.

“It’s going to be a mess. We’ve got a lot of scrubbing” to do, Shulik said. Her house remains surrounded by pools of flood water.

Shulik was among residents of about 30 homes in the neighborhood east of Route 711 that were evacuated by swiftwater rescue teams Wednesday evening. The neighborhoods began to flood around 6 p.m., and a mandatory evacuation was issued by 9 p.m., she said.

The National Weather Service in Moon said the Ligonier area got about 1.8 inches of rain, but the Laurel Mountains east of Ligonier received 3.45 inches. That water flowed from the mountains and fed the streams that flow into the Loyalhanna Creek.

James Laughlin, 75, who has lived on Boucher Lane his entire life, said Wednesday’s flooding was the worst he’s seen since floods hit the region in 1954.

“You should have seen the waves coming down” through the neighborhood, Laughlin said.

Debris is strewn about yards, and fences are knocked down. A shed filled with equipment was pushed about 25 yards from its base.

Before they bought their house three years ago, Skulik said, they talked to neighbors about the likelihood of being flooded.

“We talked to the neighbors and (were told) it never goes this high,” Skulik said.

Water rescue teams from three counties — Westmore­land, Cambria and Indiana — assisted in rescuing people who were stranded in their homes as the creek overflowed its banks.

The strong current posed dangers to the rescuers, with one rubber raft capsizing as the crew rescued 85-year-old Paul Bagnall, an avid beekeeper, who was stuck in his van as it became surrounded by the water, neighbors said.

The boat was caught between a stone pillar and large fir tree when it flipped and dumped everyone out, said resident Kevin Menzie, who used his climbing skills to tie a rope from his house to the nearby tree.

That gave rescuers a line to hold so they would not be swept downstream. The team was able to right the boat and get Bagnall to safety, Menzie said.

“It happened so fast. They did a great job. This was rapids. It shows the danger of swiftwater rescues,” Menzie said.

In the Green Acres neighborhood of Ligonier Township, Sheila Grimm was upbeat as she cleaned the flooded shed in her yard, which abuts Loyalhanna Creek.

“I tell all my friends that 364 days a year, this is the nicest place to live. But, that one day is coming,” Grimm said, referring to flooding.

Their neighborhood was flooded in February and Grimm said she thought that was the bad day for the year.

“It was a million times worse yesterday (Wednesday),” Grimm said.

She said it was disconcerting to stand along Route 30 and helplessly watch the flood waters rise.

“It came up so fast. My husband had to put his chest waders on to get to our dog,” Grimm said.

“This, I’m sure, will be a record breaker,” Grimm said, recalling it was worse than flooding during Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Latrobe Fire Chief John Brasile said flooding at the Lincoln Road Shopping Center was the worst he could recall there. At least six businesses were affected, many experiencing first-floor flooding when water rose quickly after 3 p.m., Brasile said.

He said a wooden footbridge washed downstream from nearby Derry Township and blocked a drainage culvert along Josephine Street, near the shopping center, making the problem worse.

“One piece floated down, it was probably 10 feet long, and acted as a dam,” he said. The city’s public works crew used a backhoe to remove the bridge and other debris in the vicinity.

Shopping center tenants were busy removing water and mud from their businesses.

Manager Michelle Bolish said water rose to at least six inches in the front office and rear warehouse of PaO2 Home Medical Equipment. She said employees scrambled to move equipment to an upper storage area as water rose in the parking lot.

Soon, “It was up over our front door at least eight inches and just started pouring in,” Bolish said. The carpet and furniture in the front office are a total loss, she said.

Bolish said the staff was able to clean up enough to allow patients to come in and obtain oxygen Thursday. But, she added, “We’re going to have to have a disaster restoration company come in and help us.”

In the nearby China Garden restaurant, staff vacuumed water from carpeting in the dining area, but the kitchen wasn’t affected, manager Jennifer Chen said. The restaurant reopened Thursday afternoon for take-out orders only and hoped to have the dining room ready for customers Friday, she said.

Floodwater reached as high as two feet in basements of some nearby homes, Brasile said.

Staff writer Jeff Himler contributed to this report. Joe Napsha is a Tribune- Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or [email protected].


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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Mud covers the floor, and water that came up through the pips sits in the bathtub of homeowner Patti Bean, as she works to clean up their house on Greenacres Lane, in Ligonier Twp., after Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna, on Thursday, June 21, 2018.
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Carolyn Rogers | Tribune-Review
1311 Latrobe Derry road floods after the creek overflowed during a rainstorm on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
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Carolyn Rogers | Tribune-Review
Carol Kelly and Kendra Harr, 7, sweeps the water out of the garage after the creek next to her house flooded during a rain storm in New Derry Township on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
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Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
Sheila Grimm picks up fence rail that had floated away in her Ligonier Township yard from the flood on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
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Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
David Creighton Jr. of Bethel Park, currently serving with the Air Force in Texas, spends his leave helping his father, David Creighton, and his uncle, Dave Husser of Finleyville, remove flood-damaged furniture and appliances from the family's Boucher Lane cottage in Ligonier Township.
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Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
Ruined appliances pulled from the cottage along Loyalhanna Creek in Ligonier Township. The cottage is owned by David Creighton and his family of Bethel Park. The cottage sustained the worst flood damage since Hurricane Agenes hit in June 1972. Creighton said the family wants to sell the cottage, built in the 1930s, once it is cleaned up.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A pond covers what is normally a field Thursday, June 21, 2018, along Greenacres Lane in Ligonier Township after Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Piles of carpet sit outside homes Thursday, June 21, 2018, along Greenacres Lane in Ligonier Township as homeowners work to clean up from Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Patti Bean observes her once-white carpet Thursday, June 21, 2018, while working to clean up her house on Greenacres Lane in Ligonier Township, after Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna. Patti and her husband had just finished their remodel last week and have never seen water in their home in more than a decade of ownership. 'I'm so overwhelmed. I don't even know where to start cleaning,' she said.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A shed at the home of Anne Woodall is missing from her yard Thursday, June 21, 2018, on Greenacres Lane in Ligonier Township. Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna took the shed, lawnmower and tool chests downstream.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Anne Woodall works to clean up her house Thursday, June 21, 2018, on Greenacres Lane in Ligonier Township. Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna brought water through her home for the first time. 'The cleaners from my insurance company should be here in a few hours, so hopefully I can sleep here tonight,' she said.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A pond covers what is normally a yard behind Patti Bean's newly remodeled home on Greenacres Lane in Ligonier Township after Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Piles of carpet sit Thursday, June 21, 2018, outside homes along Greenacres Lane in LIgonier Township as homeowners work to clean up from Wednesday's flash flooding on the Loyalhanna.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Flood waters still cover a section of Route 381 near Route 30 in Ligonier Township on Thursday, June 21, 2018, a day after flash flooding wreaked havoc on the valley.
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Flood waters still cover a section of Route 381 near Route 30 in Ligonier Township on Thursday, June 21, 2018, a day after Wednesday's flash flooding wreaked havoc on the valley.
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John Brasile
The China Garden restaurant, at left, is among businesses that experienced flooding on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at the Lincoln Road Shopping Center in Latrobe.
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John Brasile
A footbridge swept by floodwaters against this storm inlet along Latrobe's Josephine Street has been blamed for adding to flooding woes for nearby businesses on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 20, 2018. City crews later removed the bridge and other debris.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A man talks on the phone in the doorway of the Italian Club on Baldwin Street in Bridgeville as mud-caked items rest in the parking lot Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Bruce Chbrosky pauses as he works to remove mud-caked items from his home along Baldwin Street in Bridgeville on Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night. Chbrosky said the water came up to the middle of his first floor and ruined most of what was inside. He said the home has been in his family since 1919 and he's lived there since 1971.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Cleanup efforts are underway along Baldwin Street in Bridgeville Thursday, June 21, 2018 following flooding on Wednesday night.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Richie Folino watches as a construction vehicle operated by his father removes debris from McLaughlin Run during cleanup efforts Thursday, June 21, 2018, following flooding Wednesday evening.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A construction vehicle lifts a hot water tank out of McLaughlin Run as another pulls out a dumpster during cleanup efforts Thursday, June 21, 2018, following flooding Wednesday evening.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Tony Sikorski carries items from his auto body shop along Baldwin Street in Bridgeville on Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
People are reflected in the window of an auto body shop along Baldwin Street in Bridgeville on Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Tony Sikorski sprays off the sandals of Donald Burris on Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night in Bridgeville.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Cheyenne Kazmarski, 14, of West Virginia looks out onto Baldwin Street from the Reliable Fraternal Association on Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A vehicle and other debris rest smashed up against the Bower Hill Road Bridge as people look into McLaughlin Run during cleanup efforts Thursday, June 21, 2018, following flooding Wednesday evening.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Tony Sikorski looks out onto Baldwin Street as he removes items from his auto body shop Thursday, June 21, 2018 during cleanup efforts following flooding on Wednesday night.
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