CARNEGIE (KDKA) — An ecumenical prayer service is being held tonight in Carnegie to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the floods that claimed a life there following Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Carnegie would get six inches of rain on Sept. 17, 2004, and by the time it stopped; the damage would be beyond anything anyone could imagine.READ MORE: New Trial Begins For 83-Year-Old Ohio Man Who Spent 45 Years In Prison
KDKA’s Harold Hayes has more from Carnegie:
From the all-day rains that stopped only on that Friday night, to the piles of debris that had to be moved that Saturday morning, it was clear that some businesses like Eagle Drug would never recover.
But some businesses, like Lorrie’s Hair So New, stayed.
“The water was about half ways up the wall here and it wiped this whole place out,” said owner Lorraine McNally. “But we stayed.”
“It was pretty devastating,” said Phillip Hanna of Hanna’s Clothing. “It was just sewage and mud. You name it, it was everywhere, and just about everything here was pretty much gone.”
Hanna’s Clothing stayed too, but it took a while to get back on their feet.
“Fully recover? About six years,” said Hanna. “The most difficult part was recouping inventory.”
Meanwhile, the tearing down of Carnegie gradually brought it new life.
“For the last four or five years we’ve really been starting to thrive,” says Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek. “Our business district has been growing. We’ve had a number of professional operations move into the community.”
A number of businesses have closed, but since 2004, 40 new businesses have come to Carnegie.
The prayer service is set for 6:30 p.m.
Across the county in Millvale, the only visible sign of what happened on North Avenue Sept. 17, 2004, is a high water mark on the hobby shop.READ MORE: Congressman Glenn Thompson Released From Walter Reed Hospital After Receiving Treatment For COVID-19
Former Millvale Mayor Jim Burn recalled the day.
KDKA’s Harold Hayes has more from Millvale:
“We knew by 11 o’clock in the morning that we had a significant problem,” said Burn. “After about one hour of heavy rain, Girty’s Run was ready to overflow its banks.”
Video shot from the second floor of Bob Mehler’s hobby shop showed the flow of water down the streets of Millvale. Ten years later he recalled what that was like.
Mehler: “So it was up for a good five or six hours with five feet of water right out here where your van is parked.”
KDKA’s Harold Hayes: “How long did it take your business to recover?”
Mehler: “Just about two months. We made it in time for Christmas. God blessed me that way.”
Eventually, then-President George W. Bush landed in Millvale by helicopter to survey the damage.
“First thing I want to do is thank all the first responders,” former President Bush said when he spoke with the people of Millvale a few days later.
The cleanup and recovery varied, but planning for the future took months.
“Four-hundred private homes were compromised, anywhere from basement flooding to catastrophic loss,” says former mayor Burn. “Over 200 of our businesses in the business district, which Girty’s Run cuts right through the heart of were hurt in some similar fashion.”
Even though it took Mehler just a couple of months to get back on his feet, it took the rest of the borough years and millions of dollars.MORE NEWS: Deer Tests Positive For Chronic Wasting Disease In Jefferson County
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