Some residents and business owners in surrounding counties found their homes and facilities partially under water due to severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall Tuesday evening.
Most of the flooding occurred in Jefferson and Elk counties, impacting several businesses in those areas, according to reports.
While preparing for a natural disaster is important, some may be wondering what to do after they are impacted.
Businesses in Brockway, such as Fran Morelli’s Sales & Service on Route 219, worked on the cleanup process Wednesday as they aired out buildings and drained water.
The lot had several vehicles that were halfway submerged in water during Tuesday evening’s storms, which produced three to four inches of rain.
Floods are the most common and frequent natural disaster, according to the American Red Cross. They often originate as a fairly-normal thunderstorm, until it’s too late to prepare for the rushing waters covering the roadways.
Despite what drivers may think, two feet of rushing water can carry most vehicles away during a flood, the ARC says, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
According to www.weather.com., there are about 82 flood deaths every year in the U.S., and the number has significantly increased over the past 10 years. In 2016, 126 people reportedly died due to flooding.
People are encouraged to continue listening to weather reports following a flood, since this can be a weather pattern.
According to the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services, the American Red Cross is deploying damage assessment teams that will provide clean-up kits to homeowners affected by flooding.
During the cleanup process, after buildings and homes have been “aired” out, items that absorbed water and can’t be cleaned should be thrown away, including mattresses, carpeting, toys, etc. Food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters or mud should also be thrown away, as well as canned goods, and containers with food or liquid.
Floodwaters can damage material and leave contaminants, promoting mildew growth and causing health hazards in a home. Residents also should have their septic tanks and appliances, including furnaces or hot water heaters, checked and serviced as soon as possible.
Although basement flooding is a common occurrence, it can cause more damage if the water is drained too quickly. The ARC recommends residents “pump out” their basements gradually, at about one-third of the water per day. If too much water is pumped in a short period of time, basement walls could collapse.
Any area of the home that has been affected — walls, floors, closets — should be thoroughly washed.
Home and business owners are encouraged to have preparation and recovery plans for natural disasters, as rare as they may seem. Taking the time to rebuild and make improvements could protect a home from future flooding and the costs associated with water damage.
Flood insurance, community flood protection programs and other forms of assistance are available.
For more information, visit www.redcross.org.
ST. MARYS — Flooding threatened Marlo’s Restaurant Tuesday evening, according to Tina Schatz, but the water subsided fairly quickly.
The flooding impacted the floors and carpet and the restaurant was closed Wednesday to let the carpet dry.
“We’ve been by that creek long enough to know to be prepared,” said Schatz.
“We only had maybe an inch inside but everything has always been up high enough to prevent any damage,” she said.
Tina said she fought to clean up what water she could but had to give up.
“It was coming too fast and we didn’t want to be stuck in there because the water was still rising,” said Schatz.
Officials closed the road after water began coming over the bridge, Shatz said.
“We were able to get back in about 8:30 p.m.,” she said.
DuBOIS — It’s almost time to turn Downtown DuBois stores into tasting rooms for the seventh annual Grapes and Hops Walk.
Dan Bowman, Downtown DuBois Revitalization Group manager, said at Wednesday’s Coffee and Commerce that the event will be from 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and tickets should be available online for purchase on Friday.
“We are a little bit behind with it, just with the staffing changes, but we’re up and going,” said Bowman, who became the downtown group’s manager in late June.
“We’re looking to have 500 people again,” said Bowman. “I think we’re very close to the same number of stops that we had last year, which should be around 15 or 16.”
“We’ll do pre-sale tickets. We’re not sure about the price yet,” Bowman said. “This is our big fundraiser for the DDRG. First, the tickets will be available online and then, hopefully, within the next two weeks we’ll have physical ticket sales.”
Community Blood Drive
Bowman also announced another Downtown DuBois event — the First Commonwealth Bank Day Challenge Community Blood Drive, which will be held from 1-6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the Parkside Community Center located at 120 W. Park Ave.
Free T-shirts will be given to all presenting donors, while supplies last only. A group of DuBois businesses are sponsoring the event, he said.
Bowman said the downtown Farmers’ Market is constantly growing.
“I keep getting calls every week about people wanting to come in and be a vendor,” he said. The market is held every Saturday from 8-11 a.m. in the parking lot next to Luigi’s.
The Farmers’ Market will be staged through Oct. 13.
“That place is packed,” said Nancy Duffalo, who attended the Coffee and Commerce. “I know Saturday morning, I water the posies where the former bank building is. There are a lot of people there waiting for it.”
“I think we’ve seen such a nice increase in it. We start a little bit earlier than some communities, but as we progress through the seasons, we’ll still have at least a month and two weeks or so, to show that Farmers’ Market off,” said Bowman.
“Our market manager, Hans Duncan, told me that he would have peaches here soon, too,” Bowman said. “It’s been going very well.”
Large Item Cleanup
Bowman said last weekend’s large item cleanup was a huge success.
“There were a lot of happy people getting some of their junk out, which was good,” Bowman said. “It’s not a big revenue maker for us, but it’s nice to be able to give back to the community.”
DuBOIS — The Downtown DuBois Revitalization Group is applying for a state facade improvement grant, according to DDRG Manager Dan Bowman.
The deadline to apply is Aug. 31.
“We’ll be applying for a sum of $50,000 to put towards projects in the downtown,” said Bowman at Wednesday’s Coffee and Commerce meeting at the Parkside Community Center in DuBois. “We have at least six or seven different projects to go towards storefronts.”
One of those projects includes the former First Commonwealth Bank building, located at the corner of East Long Avenue and North Brady Street, which was just purchased by Jennifer Jackson, Bowman said. Plans are to rent many of the offices on the first floor of the building for use as an entrepreneurial launch box, he said.
“Then, to the best of my knowledge, they’ll be doing kind of luxury apartments on the upper floors,” Bowman said. “She’ll be applying for at least three or four (facade grants) for that building, which will be very nice,” said Bowman.
Another storefront project includes Julie Stewart’s apartment/commercial building located on Long Avenue, next to the former Mohney Yarger Funeral Chapel. Stewart said retail space is available in her building, as well as apartments that will hopefully accommodate the influx of employees expected with the expansion of Penn Highlands Healthcare over the next three years.
“Those funds are all through the Keystone Communities Program,” Bowman said. “It’s a little bit exclusive to programs that are like ours; who are Main Street-designated programs. We’re very excited about that.”
Bowman also said a regional representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development visited DuBois recently.
“It was his very first time visiting DuBois,” said Bowman. “It was a great visit. We started at Luigi’s, had lunch, and then we took him on the trolley ride around town and showed him all of the fields and the hospital, and all of the new streetscapes that are going up on Main Street.”
“It was a very good visit. He had a very good time. Those are the kinds of things he does often, comes into towns and make these visits,” Bowman said. “It was good for us to get on his map because they just added Clearfield County to the central region of the DCED. We used to be in the northwest sector. We’ll put it as, we are the farthest visit he’s ever made. That was very nice for us.”
Bowman said he thinks the downtown group is on the right track toward filling vacant buildings and turning them into something that will benefit the downtown and local area.
“I think the hospital expansion is going to benefit the downtown in a dramatic way,” said Bowman.
PITTSBURGH — The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh has confirmed that a tornado touched down in Jefferson County Tuesday around 4:10 p.m., continuing across the border and into Elk County.
A public statement issued by the NWS Wednesday said a preliminary photographic ground survey was conducted by the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services, as well as damage and data reports, that led them to confirm the Brockway-to-Brockport tornado.
“Damage began a few miles south of Brockway, and continued four miles northeast into Elk County, to just southwest of Brockport,” the NWS report said. “Documented damage includes uprooted trees, a toppled truck and facial damage to structures.
“Damage is consistent with an EF1 tornado, with a maximum wind of 85-95 miles per hour.”
According to the Jefferson County Emergency Management Authority, calls began coming into the 911 center around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, continuing into Wednesday morning.
Incidents were reported in Brookville, Sigel, Ringgold, Reynoldsville, Worthville, Punxsutawney, Falls Creek, Brockway and other surrounding townships. Several residents evacuated their homes due to rapidly rising water.
“High winds and heavy rain caused substantial damage in the Crenshaw area near the county line, as well as roadway closures and business flooding along State Route 219 from Brockway to the Clearfield County line,” the Jefferson County EMA reported.
Areas surrounding Brookville and Sigel received 2 and a half to 3 and a half inches of rain, whereas the Brockway area reported more than 4 inches, said Jefferson County EMA Director Tracy Zents in a press release. Basement and roadway flooding was reported, as well as a home with first-floor flooding.
Major flooding along State Route 219 in Washington and Snyder Townships was reported by Falls Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Miller. The road was also closed from Brockway to DuBois for several hours.
Further ground and aerial surveys will be conducted by the NWS and the EMAs of Jefferson and Elk counties throughout the week, and more information will be issued as it becomes available, the NWS report said.
The Emergency Operations Center for Jefferson County stood down around 9:30 p.m., with no reported injuries.