Pennsylvania and West Virginia Prepare for Further Flooding Event

Pennsylvania and West Virginia Prepare for Further Flooding Event

Heavy rainfall in parts of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia prompted warnings of overflowing rivers and creeks on Friday, as authorities dealt with the aftermath of a storm that had forced road closures and rescues of people stranded in flooded streets.

During the 18-hour period that started around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, a 60-mile-wide band of rain swept from the easternmost tip of Kentucky across the Pittsburgh area and over Dunkirk, N.Y., on the Lake Erie shore, letting loose from 1.25 to more than four inches of rain, said Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

Washington and Allegheny Counties in Western Pennsylvania got most of it, he said.

Jonathan DeBor, the council president in Oakdale Borough, in Allegheny County, said the flooding there “was the worst since the flood during Ivan in 2004, which was the worst in the history of the town.”

He was referring to Hurricane Ivan, which dumped up to seven inches of rain in the central areas of the state.

The National Weather Service said that after the heavy rainfall across Western Pennsylvania, the Clarion River was expected to rise above its 13-foot flood stage on Friday afternoon, cresting at 13.5 feet in the evening, at Cooksburg, an unincorporated community on its northern banks.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Allegheny River at the C.W. Bill Young Lock and Dam on Friday, noting that minor flooding was expected.

A flood warning was also issued for parts of northwest, west central and western Pennsylvania, including western Forest, Mercer, Venango, central Armstrong, Butler, Clarion and Lawrence Countries.

The flooding was expected to begin shortly, forecasters said Friday evening. The warning was in effect until early Saturday morning.

In Pittsburgh, officials were bracing for more flooding from the Ohio River, which was expected to crest at about 2 a.m. Saturday.

“It’s not going to be, frankly, a good day on the Ohio River in the next week,” Mr. Hendricks said.

The rain tapered off on Friday afternoon, as crews cleaned up the damage and worked to reopen streets. But in addition to the flood warnings, high winds were also of concern.

Wind advisories were in effect for Western Pennsylvania and northeastern West Virginia, where gusts of up to 50 miles per hour had the potential to topple trees.

The warnings, which extended to east-central Ohio, were in effect through Saturday.

The National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., said that high winds combined with the rainfall that had accumulated overnight would generate “increased flows” in local waterways.

In Kanawha County, where about four inches of rain fell on Thursday and overnight into Friday, the Coal River and other waterways were expected to crest on Friday, Kent Carper, a county commissioner, said in an interview.

There had been up to 100 water rescues in the 900-square-mile county, some by swift water teams and some by firefighters who had pushed through the deep water tethered with rope, he said.

Residents sought refuge on roofs or the upper floors of their homes, or hiked up the banks to higher ground, he said.

One woman had broken her car window as floodwaters rose around it and climbed out onto the top of the vehicle, Mr. Carper said. There were about 800 weather-related calls for help between about 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., county figures showed, nearly 130 of which involved reports of high water.

In Pittsburgh late on Thursday, emergency workers rescued a woman who was trapped in a car surrounded by rising waters on Route 51, the authorities said.

Steve Trusnovic, the mayor of Oakdale Borough, said in an email early Friday that two people had been helped out of a vehicle that was stranded in water, and that several other people were given assistance leaving homes and businesses that had become surrounded by flooded streets. There were no reports of injuries or fatalities, he said.

In Washington, Pa., a city of more than 13,000 residents southwest of Pittsburgh, the rain was so relentless that the city declared a state of emergency, calling in a boat from neighboring Peters Township to perform water rescues, the mayor, JoJo Burgess, said on Friday.

One man was rescued from a car as streets and a creek were inundated, he said.

“It was pretty catastrophic,” Mr. Burgess said.

Orlando Mayorquín contributed reporting.

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