South Hills residents rebound after flash floods bring random havoc


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Vacation didn't go quite as planned for Jeff Campbell.

"I was calling and texting all day Wednesday," said the executive director of the South Hills YMCA.

That was July 10, the day exceptionally heavy rain caused McLaughlin Run to overflow onto the YMCA property on McMurray Road in Upper St. Clair, flooding the Y's two swimming pools.

The force of the water also damaged the parking lot to the point where 40 percent of it is now unusable.

Despite the problems, the main pool and baby pool opened early Monday afternoon, just as temperatures started to rise into the 90s.

"It was a welcome sight. The members were happy and surprised we were open," said Mr. Campbell, whose said his staff worked long hours to prepare the pools.

"We had people say, 'Wow, you all did a great job, it looks great,' " Mr. Campbell said.

In Castle Shannon, Else Franzmann also was able to reopen her business Monday.

Someone Else's Bar on Willow Avenue, closed for several days because of flooding from Saw Mill Run that dumped 4 feet of water into the bar's basement July 10, wiping out her food and beer inventory and various pieces of equipment.

Several electrical outlets also were damaged.

"They were replaced very quickly, by good Samaritans," Ms. Franzmann said.

Nearby McGervey Electric Inc. did the work at no charge.

Others who helped the day of the flood were members of the Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department who helped pump out the water, including Chief Bill Reffner.

"He gave me six hours of his time, which was quite tremendous," Ms. Franzmann said.

Once the water was out, she had to clean the sludge left in its wake, along with ordering new food and replacement equipment.

"Some people asked, 'Why aren't you more upset?' " she said. "I told them there's nothing I can do. I can't control the floods.

"There's no time to cry, and sit around and pout. You have to get it back together."

In Mt. Lebanon, flooding occurred in some low-lying areas, especially along Cedar Boulevard near Bird Park. That situation cleared up rapidly.

"We were trying to keep the population apprised on areas to avoid if they needed to be out," said Susan Morgans, municipal spokeswoman.

Residents, some of whom experienced basement flooding, were advised to call 911, and Ms. Morgans said Allegheny County dispatch did a good job of prioritizing calls.

The renovation project at Mt. Lebanon High School was not adversely affected even though Horsman Drive, which runs behind the school, was flooded. Tom Berkebile of P.J. Dick, the project construction manager, said work was not able to begin on time the morning of the storm, but about half the normal crew was on site later in the day.

In bordering Dormont, the swimming pool on McFarland Road was closed July 10 when dirt washed into it, but the reopened the following day.

Other parts of Dormont also were hit hard, including the area near Athens Alley, which has been the target of a storm-water infrastructure improvement project because of recurring problems with rising water.

"We had some issues with significant flooding, but it went away as soon as the rain stopped," said Jeff Naftal, borough manager. "Everything was resolved relatively quickly."

weather - neigh_south

Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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