PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The remnants of big hurricanes can often bring a lot of rain to Pittsburgh – like in 2004 when Ivan flooded entire towns.
As Hurricane Irma prepares to make landfall in Florida, experts believe it has the potential to bring heavy rain and high winds to the Pittsburgh area. Chief Allen Hausman with the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Team says they’re watching the storm closely.
“Its track is a little uncertain as it comes up through the United States, but we’re fairly certain people are going to get heavy rains here,” Hausman said, “and since everyone else is out of town, we’re prepared to cover anything that happens in this region.”
Hausman says his 90-member team has the same training as rescuers responding to emergencies in Texas and Florida. They’re stocked with all the latest high-tech equipment.
“In front of the vehicle we’re in right now, we have two full packages of water rescue equipment,” he said, “and we’re prepared to do searches, rescues, building stabilization, whatever it’s going to take if we do see heavy rains, heavy winds.”
It was 13 years ago this month when Hurricane Ivan, a storm similar to Hurricane Irma, brought nearly 6 inches of rain to the Pittsburgh area in 24 hours. Ivan caused severe flooding in communities like Millvale, Etna and Carnegie. The river crested at 31 feet, causing boats – even whole docks – to float down to the Point.
Back then, the team was just getting started. Today, it has firefighters and emergency workers from across the area.
“We have a lot of things in place,” Hausman said. “We learned a lot from that. We’re as prepared as I think we can be, should it come here.”