by David Croyle
Rain that came down in torrents during Sunday afternoon and evening caused major problems for not only area residents but also emergency workers.
Flooding was reported throughout the county, activating pumping units from area fire departments to respond to not only basements, but also main living quarters in various homes and businesses.
Lightning caused major damage to power lines and caused brush fires to erupt in numerous areas. In Manor Township, the West Penn Power sub-station was heavily hit, causing major power outages throughout the Ford City area.
As of 2AM this morning, West Penn Power reported 271 customers throughout Armstrong County were still without power. Manor Township accounted for most of the outage to its 218 residents. Other losses were reported due to downed wires and blown transformers. They included: 3 in Ford City, 32 in Kittanning Borough, 18 in East Franklin Township, 14 in Rayburn Township, and 5 in Kittanning Township.
West Penn Power spokesperson Diane Holder assured customers that technicians were working on the problem.
“Our crews are working throughout the night until everyone is back in power. They will continue working,” she said.
There were issues with the Ford City Municipal Sewage Disposal Authority treatment plant as technicians were called out to check for problems with pumps. Some residents reported raw sewage backing up into basements.
West Kittanning firemen were dispatched to 118 Harrison Street for six inches or more of water in that basement.
On Pine Hill Road and numerous other state-maintained roadways, PennDOT brought in heavy equipment to remove trees and rocks that had fallen from the hillside. In addition, trees had to be removed that blocked roadways near the Villa Restaurant in Cadogan.
Crews were dispatched shortly before 2AM today to 443 Butler Road basement that filled with nearly six feet of water. West Penn Power was called to pull the meter and stop electric service as water neared the basement breaker boxes.
Meteorologist Tim Axford at the National Weather Service called yesterday’s storm activity “potent” as it dumped rain in Armstrong County.
“Along with the frequent lightning that was seen across the area, there were some wind gusts through Armstrong County that caused some trees to be uprooted across power lines. Along with that we saw heavy downpours totaling between two and three inches south of Kittanning, through Ford City and east towards Rural Valley. We saw some localized water issues as well with the heavy downpours.”
Axford said we can expect an additional quarter-inch of rain today but then things will change.
“We’re certainly not expecting anything like we did yesterday with the severe storms that rolled through the area.”
Axford said river levels should stabilize as well this week.
“We should be heading into a dry period the next couple of days that should allow (the river levels) to level off and come back down pretty quickly, so we’re not expecting any major flooding along the river at this point.”
Yesterday’s storm had one positive result – temperatures will be on the cooler side this week.
“This system that rolled through yesterday is potent enough that it is bringing enough cold air in that will knock down temperatures the rest of the week to well below average – 5 to 10 degrees below the average for daytime highs. Cooler weather continues, but at least it will be a little dryer weather.”