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Area officials, first responders deal with flooding, prepare for more heavy rainfall

In the wake of the heavy rainfall and flooding Clearfield, Jefferson and, to a lesser degree, Elk County residents have experienced over the past few days, area officials are urging people to prepare for more weather-related issues created by Hurricane Florence.

Meteorologist Paul Head with the National Weather Service in State College reported 48 hour rainfall totals — beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Monday — of 3.47 inches for DuBois, 3.12 inches for Punxsutawney, 2.02 inches for Brookville, 2.97 inches for Clearfield, 3.33 inches for St. Marys, 2.77 inches for Johnsonburg, and 3.78 inches for Brockway.

No flood related issues had been reported in Elk County. “We have been fortunate, no flooding here,” said St. Marys Police Chief Tom Nicklas.

Tracy Zents, Director of Jefferson County Emergency Services, said the area could see significant rain and even wind damage from the hurricane approaching the Carolinas.

“We are looking at that and monitoring the situation, and preparing as if we are going to get hit,” he said. “Everyone needs to heed the warnings and be prepared.”

Because of the amount of rainfall Jefferson and surrounding counties have already endured, creeks and streams in the area cannot handle much more significant rainfall, Zents said.

Residents in flood prone areas should be on the lookout, whether they’re driving or at home, Zents said. The force of rushing water on roadways can be enough to knock even the strongest person down.

“We say over and over again not to drive on flooded roadways, but people still do,” he said. “It not only puts them at risk, but it puts our first responders at risk.”

Area authorities have received reports of many flooded basements, Zents said. He urged that residents elevate any items in their basement, including appliances, to prevent further damage when there is danger of flooding.

According to the Jefferson County EMS rain gauge, anywhere from 3 ½ to 4 inches of rain had been recorded by mid-day Monday.

Zents recommends that people watch and listen for flood and weather warnings, and take them seriously. Weather text alerts are available, as well as updates from the JCEMS page, which is linked to the National Weather Service.

Falls Creek

Falls Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Miller said the department’s officers have met and reviewed a flooding pre-plan to prepare for heavy rainfall. First responders closed South Pancoast Road in Reynoldsville at 3 a.m. Monday after water covered the roadway.

“I am in constant contact with Jefferson County EMA, getting weather updates from the NWS,” he said. “We inspect and monitor water levels in the flood-prone areas, and we inspect and go over all of our water rescue equipment, including our boat, gear, dive equipment and underwater camera.”


“The City of DuBois is holding its own,” according to DuBois EMA Director Scott Farrell.

“We have had a couple of trees down but nothing of any significance,” said Farrell. “All of the creeks are maxed out and it looks like it’s going to quit raining right now. We are hoping that everything goes back to normal. We have received almost 5 inches of rain. Everything in the city is in good shape. It all comes down to the flood control and the maintenance they do in the summer time along the creeks.”

DuBois City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio said a few residents in the Jared Street area had called about water in their basements but that was all he had to report early Monday afternoon.

DuBois City Fire Chief Ben Blakley said everything has been quiet other than the department’s having to respond to a tree down in the Quarry Avenue area Sunday night. No damage was reported.

Sandy Township Fire Chief Steve Dunlap said there have been no incidents due to the weather.

Elk County officials reported no rain or flood related issues during the period.

Rainfall totals

Meteorologist Paul Head with the State College National Weather Service reported the following 48 hr. rainfall totals: St. Marys, 3.33 inches; Johnsonburg, 2.77 inches; Brockway, 3.78 inches; Glen Hazel, 1.76 inches; and DuBois, 3.47 inches.

These are totals associated with the lastest weather event, which began 7 a.m. Saturday morning through 7 a.m. Monday morning. Ridgway lost its weather observer, so no totals were available.

The Pittsburgh National Weather Service reported rainfall totals as follows:

Brookville: 2.02 inches estimated based on radar data (no weather observer data)

Clearfield: 2.97 inches estimated based on radar data (no weather observer data)

Punxsutawny: 3.12 inches (based on weather observer data)

No flood related issues have been reported in Elk County.

“We have been fortunate, no flooding here,” said City of St. Marys Police Chief Tom Nicklas.

REMEMBERING 9/11: Community looks back on historical, tragic day

Local veterans, first responders and everyday Americans are looking at the flag a little differently today, remembering a morning that went down in history and united a brokenhearted country.

Many remember exactly where they were, and how they felt, on this day 17 years ago. Some were sitting in front of the television watching news reports, shedding tears of disbelief and grief at the destruction they were seeing — black clouds of smoke and debris fell from the sky, covering a formerly happy city.

Sept. 11, 2001 started out as any other buzzing and busy New York City morning, and quickly turned into a devastating terrorist attack and historical tragedy — one that would forever impact the future of the United States, its people and its military.

Islamic extremists hijacked four airplanes that day, with the first attack starting around 8:45 a.m. Two planes struck the twin towers at the World Trade Center, a third the Pentagon in Washington, DC and the fourth — United Flight 93 — into a field in Somerset County, Pa.

Almost 3,000 people were killed that day, including innocent civilians and the firefighters, first responders and police officers trying to save them. Sept. 11, 2001, was the “deadliest day in history for NYC firefighters” — 343 of them were killed, according to The War on Terrorism was launched immediately in response to the attacks.

Area organizations, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VA Outpatient Clinic offer counseling and resources to local and homeless veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project, Comfort Warriors and others, helping soldiers recover, mentally and physically, when they return home.

In 2003, the DuBois Vet Center expanded its various counseling services to include World War II to current-day veterans, including veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism, according to Outreach Program Specialist David Grey.

A 9/11 Ceremony will be held at First United Methodist Church on Tuesday. The blessing of first responders and their vehicles will be held at 5:30 p.m. along West Long Avenue in DuBois, and the service will begin at 7 p.m., said Pastor and speaker John Emigh. FUMC has held this ceremony for about 17 years.

Those looking to honor a loved one or pay their respects can visit the Ground Zero and 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City, where expert guided and educational tours are dedicated to heroism and remembrance.

Just two hours away from DuBois is the Flight 93 National Memorial Site, located in Shanksville, at the crash of the site of the fourth plane’s crash.

Sept. 11 is also known as a National Day of Service and Remembrance, where people participate in community service projects throughout the country as a tribute.

Sandy Twp., DuBois discuss forming joint municipal authority

DuBOIS — Officials from Sandy Township and the City of DuBois met recently to discuss the possibility of forming a joint sanitary sewer and water systems authority, township Supervisor Kevin Salandra said at Monday’s township municipal authority meeting.

After the Aug. 20 municipal authority and regular meetings, Supervisors’ Chairman Jim Jeffers said he appointed a committee that would meet with city officials to discuss an authority between the two municipalities for water and sewer.

The township’s committee includes Salandra, Supervisor Mark Sullivan, Manager Dave Monella, Engineer Perry Bowser and person-at-large, Dave Stern.

“We had a very good meeting with the city,” said Salandra, noting that the two entities discussed the feasibility of forming a joint authority.

“I think what we determined by the end of the meeting was that the city was very excited to look into that prospect with us,” said Salandra. “I think our committee felt that it merited further research.”

Salandra said the meeting lasted approximately 1 1/2 hours and there is still much more work to be done.

“We were able to just touch on some of the basics. The city had done some very basic financial projections,” Salandra said. More details are needed with regard to those projections to see if it’s feasible, he said.

“We’d like some more time to work on that to make sure that is what both entities want to do,” said Salandra.

As a result, the supervisors, 5-0, tabled making a decision on who to sell their sanitary sewer and water systems to — either the City of DuBois or Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. — during both their municipal authority and regular meetings so that more discussion can take place between the city and the township.

Supervisor Dave Sylvis thanked both the township’s committee members and the city for sitting down to discuss the possibility.

Force woman has unique hobby making mats for homeless

FORCE — A Force woman has a unique hobby — she makes mats for homeless people out of plastic bags.

Norma Mann recently talked about the project when she visited the Bennetts Valley Senior Center in Weedville.

Mann works on the project in conjunction with her sister, Cathy Rudosky, of Ford City. It is part of the Prayer Shawl Ministry.

The mats help protect homeless people from the ground and inclement weather. They are lightweight and easy for travel.

According to Mann, the mats are made of recycled bags. It takes approximately 400 bags to make one mat.

The bags are first cut into strips, looped into string and rolled in balls before the mat can be crocheted. The mats are 2 feet by 6 feet in size.

Anyone interested in learning more about the project or who would like to help prepare the bags is asked to contact Mann at the center for more information.

The number is 814-787-7888.

Also, anyone who knows someone in need of a mat is also asked to contact her at the center.