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Aging Dams Are Focus Of Sandy Preparations

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Army Corps of Engineers says the dams that are the most critical in the Pittsburgh-area, in cases of flooding, are in good shape.

But there are other navigation dams that are under close watch.

Saturday night, their agency, along with the Red Cross and the City of Pittsburgh, are saying not to panic — but instead stay calm and informed as Hurricane Sandy makes its way towards Pittsburgh.

They’re prepared and the public should be too – that’s the message from the Army Corps of Engineers as Hurricane Sandy inches closer.

“It’s always a concern in this area when we have rain, because we have very steep terrain and very deep valleys,” said Jeff Hawk with the Corps.

Hawk says the biggest concern from Sandy will likely be flash flooding.

He says a good rule of thumb is to remember that areas that have flooded in the past will likely swell again, should the super storm wreak havoc on western Pennsylvania.

Hawk says the area’s reservoir dams that significantly cut down on flooding are in good shape, but crews are keeping a close watch on gates at four navigation dams that are deteriorating.

“When we have high water and fast rivers, bigger chance of a barge breaking free and slamming into that dam and taking out those gates. So we’re watching that situation very closely,” Hawk said.

In the meantime, the Red Cross is already calling on local disaster volunteers to be on call.

“We are preparing them locally to assist or deploy as needed,” said Dominique Buccina with the Red Cross.

Saturday the agency put out a warning to stay informed and prepared — something Mayor Luke Ravenstahl agrees with.

“My message to people right now is just to relax. I know a lot of folks are uptight and unsure of what it’s going to bring to Pittsburgh,” Ravenstahl said. “At this point it doesn’t look that severe, but right now I wouldn’t panic – if I were people at home right now. If that changes we’ll let people know.”

Additionally, hawk said that the Corps has an emergency power team that FEMA required, should outages occur in the region and providing that emergency power is not a problem.

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