Greensburg, West Newton in recovery mode after heavy rainfall, flooding
Westmoreland County communities that found themselves under water on Monday spent Tuesday in recovery mode.
From West Newton to Greensburg, officials took stock of flood damage and worked to get people back into their homes and businesses.
Among the hardest-hit areas were those along the Youghiogheny River, which rose more than 6 feet above flood stage Monday after three days of near-constant rain.
West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich on Tuesday declared a state of emergency, which she said is necessary for receiving a disaster declaration from the governor.
“What that’s saying is … you believe you have enough damage in your community that it’s going to overwhelm your resources,” Popovich said. “It just sort of sends a message that we’re overwhelmed right now and we’re limited in the resources we have.”
Popovich said the borough’s immediate response was bolstered by “multiple assisting agencies,” but the long-term response may prove to be more challenging.
Flood waters were highest on Water and Rio Vista streets and lower Collinsburg Road, Popovich said. An estimated 20 homes on lower Collinsburg sustained significant water damage, forcing about 35 people to evacuate.
Popovich said the borough also has learned of water-damaged homes on South Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth streets.
“In our one square mile, anywhere where that river was in easy access, water got into the houses by flooding or by backing up the sewer,” she said.
Some 30 residents of TLC Adult Care Center, an assisted-living facility on Rio Vista Street, had to be evacuated early Monday. They were provided temporary shelter by the American Red Cross but were able to return by 10 a.m. Tuesday, Popovich said.
The Red Cross reception center at the Collinsburg Volunteer Fire Company (Station 103), 514 Hickory Drive, West Newton, “will remain open (Tuesday night) for people in the West Newton area who are unable to return home and need a place to stay,” said Dan Tobin, a Red Cross spokesman.
To arrange transportation, call 724-872-8568.
Popovich also is posting regular updates to her Facebook page .
In Sutersville, the water has receded, but about 100 residents had their homes or businesses flooded, ranging from 2 to 8 feet high. About 30 to 40 structures were affected, assistant fire Chief Michael Manley said.
“We’re in recovery operations right now,” Manley said.
Some residents along First Avenue still don’t have power, but all borough streets have been reopened to traffic, he said.
At 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, the river level down to 19.14 feet, the weather service said.
Rainfall in the West Newton area totalled 6.29 inches from Saturday through Monday morning, the weather service said.
Flooding canceled numerous hockey practices and games at Kirk S. Nevin Arena in Greensburg on Monday and Tuesday.
Jack’s Run overflowed its banks Sunday night and flooded the soccer fields at Lynch Field, Trudy Ivory of the Greensburg Recreation Department said. By 10:30 a.m. Monday, the walking path surrounding the fields was consumed as the water inched toward the arena.
“Between 10:45 and 11 a.m., the water was already pouring into the arena. It was coming up through the drains, through the walls,” Ivory said. “We put out sandbags, but those didn’t help just because of the amount of water.”
Authorities closed Route 119 along the stretch that sits in the Sewickley Creek Flood Plain.
As several water pumps droned in the background attempting to drain water from the soccer fields, Ivory explained that the flooding caused the cancellation of hockey practices and games.
“But we’re hoping to have it open again for the hockey by 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday. We worked all day Monday until 9 p.m. and the fire department came down and helped us out, and we’ll be working all day again today to get it ready,” Ivory said.
Ivory said she has not had time to compile a complete list of damages, but it will include carpet in a conference room and damage to some computers.
“The water was literally coming through the walls. It was up to 3 inches in the lobby,” she said.
Seven recreation department workers plus Ivory were busy cleaning up the mess throughout the arena again Tuesday morning. She said a private sanitizing crew is expected later Tuesday.
“Some of the rink ice around some of the boards was also damaged, but our crews were also patching that up. Everyone’s been working really hard to get us back open Wednesday,” Ivory said.
Staff writer Paul Peirce contributed. Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.