PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As Western Pennsylvania continues to feel the non-stop wrath of Mother Nature, the landslides and flooding because of record rainfall have become more than just a nuisance.
The cost of damage to both public and private property continues to mount, municipal budgets are stretched – or in some cases – completely exhausted, and with more rain expected this week, officials are gearing up for more possible problems.
So, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has now declared a “Disaster Emergency,” which, among other things, allows communities impacted by emergencies like landslides to waive bids and contract procedures which are usually required by law.
Officials say several municipalities were already under disaster declarations, but this one is countywide.
“The declaration would be the best way to give municipalities the flexibility to move more quickly through the bidding process, including us at the county level,” said Fitzgerald. “Also, this, hopefully, will help us get some financial help from both the state and federal governments.”
The impacts have been felt since mid-February and include numerous landslides like the recent collapse of Route 30, as well as flooding, ice jams in the rivers, downed utility poles and trees, and interruptions to transportation systems and routes.
— Jeff Verszyla (@Verz) April 17, 2018
The Greenleaf Street slide in Pittsburgh has been a major drain on the city’s landslide budget.
The city, this year, could spend five or six times what they normally spend annually on landslides and cleanup, perhaps topping $12 million.
Fitzgerald told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “The grounds are so saturated, the hills are so saturated, those that haven’t come down yet are vulnerable. We want to make sure folks have the tools they need to move quickly.”
Meanwhile, the threat of rising water has once again this year forced the closing of both the 10th Street Bypass and the Mon Wharf.
The county is urging residents to report any problems to their local neighborhoods and municipalities immediately, so the proper authorities can check it out, and take preventative measures if necessary.