Allegheny County Declares Disaster Emergency Following Floods, Landslides

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News

(This story will be updated throughout the day.)

Roads throughout the Mon-Yough area are closed due to floods and landslides after more than six inches of rain fell on the region from Saturday through Monday morning.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Monday afternoon declared a county-wide disaster emergency as a result of the three-day-long deluge, caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon.

The declaration was issued on a recommendation from Allegheny County Emergency Services and enables county agencies to temporarily suspend bidding and contract requirements in order to contract with vendors for supplies and services.

“While flood warnings have expired, and rain showers are leaving the area, our department will begin its assessment of damages, and will do everything it can to assist in any recovery,” Fitzgerald said.

Five municipalities have reportedly issued their own emergency declarations, including Elizabeth Twp., where residents are being urged to evacuate from Blythedale, Smithdale, and parts of Industry and Buena Vista. Displaced residents are being encouraged to seek shelted at the community center, 429 Duncan Station Road.

Another emergency shelter has been opened at the Collinsburg Volunteer Fire Company, 514 Hickory Drive, near West Newton, according to a spokesman for the American Red Cross.

In Westmoreland County, the Sutersville Volunteer Fire Dept. was encouraging residents to evacauate and seek higher ground immediately. The fire department posted photos on its Facebook page showing that the Youghiogheny River had risen more than a foot in an hour, and was flooding the borough.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Yough at Sutersville was at 25.5 feet Monday morning --- more than five feet above flood stage. At 1 p.m. Monday, the fire department reported, water was covering First Avenue in the borough.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. said Monday afternoon that Monday's crest at Sutersville would be the highest at that location since 1996 and the sixth-highest in recorded history.

The Monongahela River at Braddock was near flood stage Monday afternoon and was expected to crest at least 18 inches above flood stage at 8 p.m., the Army Corps reported. In Wilmerding, Turtle Creek --- which drains into the Monongahela --- had risen from 5 feet Saturday afternoon to near 14 feet by Monday afternoon.

A landslide closed Route 837 in Whitaker Borough from 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Monday. Motorists exiting the Rankin Bridge were being forced to turn right toward Homestead, and through traffic was being diverted via Whitaker Way and Mifflin Street.

Route 837 also was closed in West Mifflin between the Valley Hotel and Anthony Crane, due to flooding.

Allegheny County emergency management said that Lincoln Way was closed in White Oak between McClintock Road and Rankin Road, while Route 48 was closed between Cool Springs Road and Marshall Drive, due to flooding. Both roads re-opened Monday afternoon just after 3 p.m., White Oak police reported.

A county spokeswoman said that White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton has issued a disaster declaration to allow for emergency work to be done to sewers after sewage began backing up into basements of many homes.


(Image courtesy National Weather Service)

According to National Weather Service observers, nearly 7 inches of rain were recorded in North Versailles Twp. in a 72-hour period, as of 8 a.m. Monday.

Six inches of rain were recorded in Turtle Creek and more than 5 inches of rain at both Braddock Lock and Dam and in Wilkins Twp., the weather service said.

In Washington County, Charleroi reported 6 inches of rain over a 72-hour period, according to the weather service.


In the city, the river level at the McKees Point Marina was nearing the tops of the docks at 9:30 a.m. Monday, and the river was flowing swiftly, with the water full of debris. West Fifth Avenue near the Mansfield Bridge was impassable due to flooding.

Romine Avenue near the Jerome Avenue Bridge also was closed Sunday due to downed trees.

An Allegheny County official said Liberty Way in Liberty Borough was closed Monday between Latrobe Street and Glenn Avenue following a landslide. A Duquesne Light spokesperson said that slide also damaged power lines, knocking out service to about 1,000 customers in the area.

Classes at South Allegheny High School and South Allegheny Middle School were cancelled due to the power outage.

"Crews worked overnight Sunday and will continue to work through the day on Monday to restore power," the Duquesne Light spokesperson said. "Since the rain began, power has been restored to more than 15,000 customers. The majority of customers should have power by Monday evening."

A landslide also closed Pacific Avenue in Glassport, commenters on Facebook said.


A South Allegheny School District spokesperson announced that all after school activities were cancelled for Monday, including home games.

In addition, South Allegheny Elementary was being dismissed at 3 p.m. to help accommodate bus routes that were changing "due to landslides and road closures."


Police in North Huntingdon Twp. were urging motorists to stay off of the roads today unless necessary.

A township spokesperson said Route 993, Park Hill Road, Mt. View Place, Mahaffey Hill Road, Ridinger Park Road, Leger Road, Don Drive, Frog Road, Entry Road, Pine Hollow Road and Billott Avenue were all closed Monday morning.

Classes at Norwin High School and Middle School were cancelled Monday due to a power outage. Power was restored, but students from Hillcrest Elementary School were moved to the high school temporarily after district officials became concerned about the amount of water ponding on the roof of their building, the district announced.


A spokesman for PennDOT District 11 said Route 51 was closed in Jefferson Hills Borough between Coal Valley Road and Wray Large Road due to flooding.

Power outages caused by downed trees and lines were reported in Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp. and North Huntingdon Twp., according to West Penn Power, which said it hoped to have repairs completed by 10 p.m. Monday.

More than 9,000 Duquesne Light customers had lost power during the worst of the storms, the utility said, but the majority were expected to have service restored by Monday night. Up to 15,000 customers were affected at various times, the utility said.

Originally published September 10, 2018.

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