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Western Pa. wakes up to flooding from heavy overnight storms | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Western Pa. wakes up to flooding from heavy overnight storms

Tribune-Review
| Monday, June 15, 2015 7:09 a.m
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Claire Engel helps customer Don Mackey of Squirrel Hill select fresh fruit at her market on Murray Avenue, Saturday, April 21, 2012. After 46 years, Engel's Market will close at the end of April. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
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A variety of pears and other fresh fruit fill the window of Engel's Market on Murray Avenue, Saturday, April 21st, 2012. After 46 years, Engel's Market will close at the end of April. Keith Hodan | Tribune Review
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Engel's Market, on Murray Avenue, will close at the end of April 2012 after 46 years in business. Keith Hodan | Tribune Review
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Shelby Thomas, and her son Damian, 3, walk away from flood waters from a swollen Sewickley Creek in Armbrust Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Bob Coletta walks through floodwaters along Depot Street in Youngwood where a car became stuck from the rising waters of Jack's Run on Monday, June 15, 2015. The operator of the vehicle escaped without injury.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Bob Coletta walks through floodwaters along Depot Street in Youngwood where a car became stuck from the rising waters of Jack's Run on Monday, June 15, 2015. The operator of the vehicle escaped without injury.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Water begins to recede from the railroad tracks in Youngwood after rain raised the water levels of Jack's Run on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
A mailbox along Fairground Road along Sewickley Creek near Armbrust marks the water depth after rains moved through the area causing flooding in various low-lying areas.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Water submerges artifacts and items kept in storage at the Youngwood Railroad Museum along Depot Street on Monday, June 15, 2015. Overnight rains brought water to dangerous levels with area flooding from Jack's Run.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Steve Kohl of Midway-St.Clair VFD surveys a flood that closed US-119 near South Greensburg on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Steve Kohl of Midway-St.Clair VFD surveys a flood that closed US-119 and stalled an SUV near South Greensburg on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Steve Kohl of Midway-St.Clair VFD surveys a flood that closed US-119 and stalled an SUV near South Greensburg on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
David Hoke watches tubing suction water from several greens at Arnold Palmer's Latrobe County Club on Monday, June 15, 2015. Hoke said it usually takes eight hours to clear the golf course from flooding. General manager Jack Nelson said the water caused no damage to the course.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
David Hoke walks away from a flooded green at Arnold Palmer's Latrobe County Club as he works on a cleanup on Monday, June 15, 2015. Hoke said it usually takes eight hours to clear the golf course from flooding. General manager Jack Nelson said the water caused no damage to the course.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Storms bring flooding to Ligonier Valley The Loyalhanna Creek spreads to a roadway near Route 30 Monday. Overnight and early morning storms caused flooding and fallen trees throughout Ligonier. PennDOT crews worked until nearly noon to clear fallen trees and rocks that forced the closing of a 3-mile stretch of Route 30 between Kingston Dam and the Longbridge section of Ligonier Township, said police Chief Michael Matrunics. As storms continue throughout the week, drivers are cautioned to not to pass through standing water, to obey road closure signs and to call 911 if they see fallen trees or wires.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Hempfield Township Public Works employees Jeff Miller (top) and Ralph Stroup work to secure the flooded section of East Hillis Street in Youngwood on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Toni Glavinic, who lives along Armbrust Road in Armbrust show her submerged mountain bike which she stores in her home's basement that had taken in water from a flooded Sewickley Creek across the street from her home on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Darryl Celesnick, who lives along Armbrust Road in Armbrust stands along a flooded Armbrust Road after Sewickley Creek flooded and brought debris and water into his basement and fellow neighbors on Monday, June 15, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Sewickley Creek swollen from flood waters covers Armbrust Road, which was formerly John Wilkinson Road in Armbrust, on Monday, June 15, 2015.

David Dunlap’s wife, Dianne, nudged him awake just before 5 a.m. Monday to tell him Loyalhanna Creek had overflowed its banks.

“Panic always sets in at first … then it’s back to the (flood) drill all over again,” he said.

“It just starts percolating up through the basement floor. … You turn on the pumps and then start putting stuff up on the shelves. The sad part is you always forget something and it’s ruined,” said Dunlap, who lives in the flood-prone Darlington area of Ligonier Township.

Dunlap was one of many in the region cleaning up Monday. A series of violent storms rumbled through overnight, flooding roads and basements, felling trees and knocking out power to thousands. No injuries were reported.

The storms sent water gushing over portions of Routes 51, 30 and 119 and spurred a brief tornado scare in parts of Westmoreland and Allegheny counties — including a reported sighting of a funnel in Elizabeth Township.

Lee Hendricks of the National Weather Service in Moon said there was no official report of a tornado touching down.

The “light show” from the storms was impressive, Hendricks said. Starting at 4 p.m., 517 lightning strikes and 4,537 cloud flashes were recorded in one hour over Southwestern Pennsylvania.

“It didn’t get any better,” Hendricks said.

By 10 p.m., the number of lightning strikes jumped to 2,500 and cloud flashes hit 19,000.

Six homes in Cranberry were struck by lightning, fire officials there said. One caught fire, resulting in some damage to the attic.

Some drivers heading to work in the morning had to change their routes because of high water, fallen trees and rock slides.

Rainfall totals in Westmoreland and Fayette counties ranged from 1.56 inches in Connellsville to 4 inches in Latrobe, according to the weather service. In Allegheny County, the amount ranged from 1.77 inches in Hampton to 3.59 inches in Green Tree.

“It’s not rare,” Hendricks said. “… We’ll probably get two or three events this summer like that,” he said.

PennDOT used snowplows to clear debris from roads in Unity and other areas where small streams swelled with rushing water strong enough to sweep away large rocks.

Route 119 at the busy Willow Crossing intersection in Hempfield was closed in both directions because of high water, and Westmoreland County Community College campus near Youngwood closed because some roads were impassable.

PennDOT crews worked until nearly noon to clear fallen trees and rocks that forced the closing of a 3-mile stretch of Route 30 between Kingston Dam and the Longbridge section of Ligonier Township, said police Chief Michael Matrunics.

He spoke as he placed flares along Idlewild Hill Road near Idlewild Park to stop traffic from passing through high waters of Loyalhanna Creek.

“We’re hoping the rain holds off to allow the waters to recede a little bit,” he said.

Matrunics cited several motorists for ignoring closure signs on Peoples Road. He cautioned drivers not to pass through standing water, to obey road closure signs and to call 911 if they see fallen trees or wires.

Mark Sawinski, whose father, Stanley, recently invested several thousand dollars improving the basement of their Bridge Avenue residence in Hempfield, was among many caught off-guard by the heavy rain.

“We just installed a finished basement. We have to rip out all the carpet and replace all the cabinets. … I’d say there is $8,000 to $9,000 damage,” he said.

The area last flooded in 2009, and the problems stem “from poor drainage off Route 30,” Sawinski said.

“The grate maintained by the township constantly clogs up, causing the flooding. We had at least 3 feet of water on the street and 14 to 16 inches in the basement. … Everyone’s fighting with everyone and pointing the finger,” he said.

Darryl Celesnick of Armbrust Road in Hempfield said dead limbs and shrubs damming up Sewickley Creek left him with 2 feet of water in his basement.

“They have to clean up this creek or we’re going to get flooded forever,” he said.

Widespread basement flooding was reported from Youngwood to Latrobe to Unity.

In northern Westmoreland, the rain may have caused a partial roof collapse in Vandergrift at a vacant commercial building at 226-235 Longfellow St. The remaining roof then slid into an occupied house next door, police said.

Much of the Mid-Mon Valley remained under a flash flood warning — an intimation of heavy rains and thunderstorms expected into Wednesday, said Rihaan Gangat of the weather service. “It looks as if more thunderstorms could form in eastern Ohio and create the threat of similar weather the next two days here.

“The main concern was — and still is — flash flooding, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon.”

More than 3,000 First Energy customers without power in the morning were back on line by 3 p.m. The company expected to have all power restored by about 9 p.m., according to its website.

Paul Peirce is a reporter for Trib Total Media.

Categories: Westmoreland
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