INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) — Heavy rains caused severe flash flooding problems across Indiana County, killing one person and leaving behind widespread damage.
Early Friday morning, the National Weather Service issued a new Flood Warning for central Indiana County and southeastern Armstrong County, which runs until 2:45 a.m. Saturday.
Forecasters say between 3 and 4 inches has already fallen in those areas, with locally higher amounts. Up to another 2 inches of rain is possible.
In addition, a Flash Flood Watch is in effect for most of southwestern Pennsylvania through late Friday night.
According to Indiana County emergency management officials, one person drowned in Armstrong Township Thursday evening. The Indiana County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 30-year-old Justin McCoy of Shelocta.
Officials say he drowned in the flood waters while trying to clean debris from an overflow pipe used in a pond. According to the coroner’s office, McCoy was in a kayak when it flipped, his legs got pulled into the 15-inch pipe, trapping him in the rising flood waters.
McCoy’s father and neighbors desperately tried to save him, but they were unable to free him from the pipe. Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the incident.
Route 422, near Shelocta, was closed into early Friday morning because a bridge there was flooded. Some trucks were being allowed to pass by, but only on one side because there were fears the pavement was giving way.
Residents described the rainfall as intense and relentless.
“All of a sudden it poured and poured and poured,” said resident Courtney Smith. “It just came out of nowhere, and I thought there was an accident down here, but it wasn’t. There was two cars stuck.”
She says the people in those cars were able to escape, one person only narrowly as the water rose around them.
Route 286 was closed near Old Route 56 in Center Township due to downed power lines. Crews were working to have the road reopened by Friday morning. Not far to the north, another part of Old Route 56 was closed between Route 286 and Warren Road due to flooding.
Flooding was also reported in Homer City, Clymer, White Township and Indiana Borough. According to emergency management, the flood waters were so powerful they lifted a few mobile homes up and moved them.
One person had to be rescued from their home.
“We had some flooding up off of Gobbler’s Run, water was crossing the roadway,” said Elderton VFD Chief Ron Kepple. “We had to tie some guys off with rope, send them across, and they reached the house and got the last individual out. The house seemed to be breaking away from its moorings.”
There were also reports of some storage containers used for fracking that were floating in the flood waters. However, there were no immediate concerns because they were empty.
Photos showed Wayne Avenue near the Indiana County Fairgrounds under water.
According to the Indiana Gazette, the northbound lanes of Route 119 at Lucerne Road in Center Township had to be shut down for a time, too. Two Lick Creek spilled over its banks and flooded the highway between Homer City and Indiana.
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The reports of significant flooding out of northern areas came just hours before rain was expected to begin falling from the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy.
The remnants of Cindy could drop 2.5 inches of rain across the region.
Officials are warning people to stay alert and take precautions while driving.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on the weather conditions.