PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Businesses and residents throughout the Pittsburgh area spent Thursday cleaning up and assessing the damage from Wednesday night’s extreme flooding.
It was a terrifying night for workers and customers at the Outback Steakhouse in Upper St. Clair near Route 19 as flood waters rose rapidly around the restaurant.
— KDKA (@KDKA) June 21, 2018
“It was just chaotic. Like, trying to make sure all the customers were safe and getting them out safe,” employee Sally Ruby said. “It was in a minute or two, and then another couple minutes and the whole restaurant was just being inundated with water.”
Ruby said by the time she went to the parking lot, a nearby creek had started to flood and water was already going into her car.
“I turned around because I was afraid,” she said. “Other cars were starting to float around.”
She left it in the parking lot and was able to get a ride home with a coworker. Everyone made it out of the restaurant safely.
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The water swept a truck from the parking lot next door on top of Ruby’s car. The truck owner did not want to speak on camera, but told KDKA he’s heartbroken over the damage.
Another witness said when the water was rising, debris started filling the creek, causing the road above it to buckle.
Tables and chairs were swept out of the restaurant, and glasses and plates were out in the parking lot Thursday.
Other cars in the parking lot were carried away down the creek, coming to rest near the golf course on McLaughlin Run Road. A crane was lifting the cars up out of the water Thursday. Some of them were damaged and flattened almost beyond recognition.
KDKA reached out to Outback’s corporate headquarters to try to get some information on the cleanup and when the restaurant will reopen. So far, they have not responded.
Business owners and employees say Wednesday night’s flooding along Banksville Road was surreal.
“It was crazy, even our side, there was one lady that was hooked by the road,” Leonard Ngimuh, a waiter at Mint Indiana Cuisine, said. “Police had to come to have her rescued.”
The road was strewn with garbage, dirt and debris Thursday. Dumpsters and cars were swept away in the high rising, powerful water. Rachel Murphy, an employee at Zip Dry Cleaners, watched as the storm raged.
“People were waist-deep in the Firestone,” Murphy said. “Cars were floating across the median.”
Zip Dry Cleaner and a doctor’s office were spared from flood damage, but the Firestone Complete Auto Care suffered enormous losses.
Watch Pam Surano’s report —
Employees were cleaning up, but they didn’t want to talk on camera. Neither did a young man whose car is a total loss.
Nearby popular restaurants were hit hard, too. Suresh Subbaiah, the manager of Mint Indian Cuisine, is counting his losses.
“The floor, the carpet, everything will have to change,” he said.
Next door, Taco Town was also hit by the deluge of water.
“In minutes, this is full,” employee Fernando Ancona said. “The water is coming that way, it’s up to here. Very, very, very bad. Like I’ve never seen before.”
Tables and chairs, the cooler, cookware and all the food are gone. The dedicated staff hopes to have the place reopened in a few days.
Watch Lynne Hayes-Freeland’s report —
In Ligonier, the power washers were out in full force, blasting away the mud coating everything in sight, and people were cleaning out their basements and garages at the Hemlock Square Condos.
The Loyalhanna Creek dumped water and debris into the condo basements, leaving behind a soggy mess.
“Our washer-dryer, our dishwasher, treadmill, books, thousands of dollars in camping and skiing gear, all ruined,” flood victim Christopher Spinelli said. “It’s all gone.”
Residents say the water rose three or four feet in just 30 minutes, catching people off guard.
“My mom was here. She had to be rescued by lifeboat from her house,” Spinelli said. “It was up to the third step. It was crazy.”
Handyman Michael Testa came by to help.
“Separating stuff that can be saved and the stuff that can’t and get rid of it because of the mold,” Testa said.
There was flooding at the Condos about a month ago, but it wasn’t as bad as Wednesday night’s. Still, some say it could have been worse.
“No one got here, the pets were saved, and my mom is OK,” Spinelli said. “That’s the most important part.”
KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti Reports:
They were cleaning up all day Thursday at the University Veterinary Specialists Hospital on Washington Road in McMurray. Flooding there caused more than $2 million in damage in the lower level. But, upstairs, the hospital was still operating as usual.
Late Wednesday night, when a kennel called the Canine Club was flooded in Bridgeville, one of the Veterinary Specialists staffers was called in to help care for some dogs rescued from the kennel.
Brianna Chilleo said, “I was able to help get all the dogs up on dry land. First responders even provided several dogs with oxygen. There were a total of 12 dogs, one little kitten and one rabbit. They were all stable.”