MCDONALD (KDKA) — The skies opened up again today as anxious business owners and residents gathered to discuss what, if anything they can do about the repeated bouts of flooding they are experiencing.
Their homes and businesses are just below where The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s contractor, Joseph B. Fay, is clearing the hillsides for the Southern Beltway-the expressway that will connect Interstate 79 at the Washington\Allegheny county line to Pittsburgh International Airport.
In mid-June and again last week, heavy rains sent a torrent of muddy water down the valley through backyards, basements, businesses and parking lots. Al Danjou, who works at McDonald Auto Service, says the flooding is the worst it has ever been.
“We’ve had water come through before, but it’s never been like this,” Danjou said.
Fellow worker Kim McIntyre seconds the thought.
“It wasn’t just us this last time, it was everybody around here.” McIntyre claims. “It’s never been like that. It shuts us down. It makes us have to call our customers reschedule and deal with angry customers.”
Washington County’s Conservation District does monthly inspections of the project’s erosion and sedimentation efforts. Yesterday the district cited The PA Turnpike and contractor Fay for several deficiencies.
It has given the contractor until another inspection on August 7th to make improvements or face fines up to $10,000 a day per violation. The Turnpike Commission isn’t commenting except to say it’s working with it’s contractor and has been in contact with residents to take damage reports.
That said the Department of Environmental Protection issued a statement late today saying:
“DEP cannot state whether or not the required storm water controls caused or contributed to the recent flooding in McDonald. These controls are designed to withstand relatively minor storm events. The storm on July 11 was a tropical rainfall event in which we received reports of approximately 2.5 inches of rainfall in 30 minutes.”
Those hit by the flooding like Shawnee Boyers are not buying it.
“I can’t even walk in my yard still because of the mud,” Boyers said. “It’s up to your ankles and you lose your shoes in it. It’s definitely the construction that has sent the mud.”
Kim McIntyre knows exactly what precautions to take after experiencing the damage so many times.
“Probably before we leave tonight we’ll sand bag the doors again, the garage doors on both shops and hope for the best.”