Western Pa. borough cleans up after 5 inches of rain; more storms in forecast
Flood waters cover the street in front of homes on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Zelienople, Pa. (Keith Srakocic/AP)
Zelienople is cleaning up after storms on Tuesday dropped nearly 5 inches of rain over the Butler County borough.
“It happened so quick with so much debris that things blocked up quickly and there was no way to stop it,” said Don Pepe, manager of the borough 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Pepe said the rain overwhelmed a tributary that runs through town, causing a few dumpsters and cars to float away, shutting down streets and flooding homes and businesses.
A new swimming pool was set to open to two weeks, but it sustained some damage in the storm as water rushed into the pool.
“It’s a little hard to take because we were that close to opening, so I’m not sure where we are now,” Pepe said.
He said he’s glad the situation wasn’t worse.
“We haven’t been hit like the Midwest where people died,” he said. “None of that serious damage has been done, and I’m very grateful for that.”
The National Weather Service reported that the Connoquenessing Creek, which borders Zelienople to the north, reached its third highest crest in history at just over 15 feet. The highest crest on record took place in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan, and Pepe said that’s the last time the borough experienced this much flooding.
Zelienople’s mayor declared a state of emergency late Tuesday.
Jason Frazier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the heaviest rainfall occurred in Beaver, Butler and northern Allegheny counties on Tuesday. The Pittsburgh International Airport received far less rainfall, at 0.7 inches.
More storms are forecasted through Thursday, which could lead to additional flooding, Frazier said. Many counties in southwestern Pennsylvania are under a flash flood watch through Wednesday night.
Frazier said a crew from the National Weather Service is looking into whether a tornado touched down in Indiana County on Tuesday. He said it’s possible more tornadoes could form over the next day.
“We can’t rule out a tornado, but the environment isn’t as conducive,” he said.