PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — First responders across the area received countless 911 calls about downed trees, sparking power lines, flooded basements and roads.
“It’s been one call after the next,” one Bethel Park firefighter said.
Buena Vista Volunteer Firefighters are pumping out a flooded basement on Rudolph Street in Elizabeth. They tell me calls are starting to come in and they’ll be out all night. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/q4FgtbiBTC
— Meghan Schiller (@MeghanKDKA) September 9, 2018
In Elizabeth, Buena Vista volunteer firefighters spent hours pumping out flooded basements of homes along the creek.
“For basements like this that are flooded, we just pump them out, but if we’re doing swift water rescue, we have the boats and all that,” said David Firda, Buena Vista Volunteer Firefighter.
Firda and Ben Desmond said they’ll go from one call to the next until the storm passes.
“We’re all volunteer, so we’re pretty much here and we won’t go back home until we’re done,” said Desmond.
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In McKeesport, a crew member of McKeesport Public Works operated a front loader and pushed standing water off the roadway.
Water cascaded down the hillside and flooded West Fifth Avenue approaching the Mansfield Memorial Bridge.
In Bethel Park, firefighters checked out a smoking power transformer off of Bethel Church Road that knocked out power to most of the surrounding area.
“We started to hear a little bit of a rumble and we at first thought it was thunder and then it started to intensify,” said Patrick Flood, Bethel Park resident. “And we heard 3 different explosions and as the explosions took place the flames and the fireball were shooting like 30 or 40 feet up in the area.”
The explosions knocked out power in most of Bethel Park, including at South Hills Village Mall.
An electrical panel reportedly filled with water and started smoking at the mall an hour before. Firefighters tell KDKA that some shoppers reported being stuck inside elevators when the power went out.
In Carrick, a car got stuck in flood waters near Becks Run Road and Raven Street. Neighbors say this isn’t the first time that’s happened; since June, eight cars became trapped in flood waters in that same area.
Numerous roads in the area were closed Sunday night because of high water and, in some cases, downed trees.
In flood-prone areas, there was real concern after flooding earlier this summer.
Jeff and Laureen Stehle live on South Margery Drive in O’Hara Township. The Stehle’s have not yet recovered after their basement was flooded in July when a nearby creek overflowed. Understandably, this weekend has been nerve-racking for them.
Stehke said a wall of water came gushing into his basement. The pressure of the water was so strong, he said, the wedding ring he was wearing was washed away.
“We were a little concerned when it started raining [this weekend],” Laureen said. “We were watching the creek across the street, seeing what was going to happen.”
Watch Ralph Iannotti’s report —
In Millvale, volunteer firefighters stayed busy pumping out basements, including at the Lincoln Pharmacy and Pamela’s Diner. Those two businesses were flooded in July.
Up the street, some people were piling sandbags in doorways to their offices and businesses, preparing the best they could in the event of flooding, while others were watching Girty’s Run, keeping their fingers crossed.
MaryJo Conner stood with an umbrella on a small bridge overlooking the creek.
“l’m lucky, I’m in a spot where I don’t flood because we’re, like, up in a hill,” she said.
But she added she was concerned about some of her neighbors.
In Shaler Township, Pine Creek was running fast and furious near the intersection on Route 8 and Saxonburg Boulevard. With the relentless rain, many were wondering when and if the creek would overflow its banks.
In White Oak, the mayor issued a disaster declaration to allow sanitary sewers to be pumped out after flooding caused sewage to back up into homes.
One Penn Hills home had 4.5 feet of water in their drive. Firefighters posted a photo on Facebook.