New Castle News

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July 12, 2013

Photos, Story: County cleans up from ‘worst storm in years’

NEW CASTLE — Calling it the worst storm in years, Mike Rooney said the South Side suffered the most damage from Wednesday’s rain.

Rooney, the New Castle public works director, said 10 city streets were closed that night and some remained closed Thursday.

“These were streets closed due to the condition of the road,” he said Thursday morning.

Severe flooding caused gravel to wash out, chunks of asphalt to lift and wash away and manhole covers to pop — creating dangerous situations for motorists.

The rain came hard and fast — about four inches between 4:30 and 6 p.m., according to the Pennsylvania-American Water Co.

Rooney said Uber Street, from Pollock Avenue to the top of the hill at Cunningham Avenue, and Hamilton Street from Denver to Pennsylvania Avenue, reopened Thursday morning.

Still closed Thursday night were Carl Street, Lyndal Street from Hamilton to Grimes streets, Pearson Mill Road behind Flaherty Field, Lorraine Street Extension, Marion Court, Lutton Street from Cunningham Avenue to East Washington Street, Mill Street from Grove to Mechanic Street and part of Dewey Avenue. A sink hole —10 feet wide, 7 feet deep and 25 feet long — opened in the 1100 block.

Sinkholes also opened at the dead end of Warren Avenue, which washed out, and at 720 Court Street, Rooney said.

“More roads were closed due to downed trees,” he said, citing Rural, Arlington and Boyles avenues and Graceland Road.

Rooney added he is appreciative the Jersey barriers, intended to close downtown streets for the fireworks festival Saturday, had been delivered by the county.

“We used them to close dangerous streets.”

“This was the worst storm we’ve had in years,” he said noting his crew was called out at 5 p.m. and remained until midnight.

The street sweeper, brought out at 6 p.m. to clear debris, remained until noon. Trucks and front-end loaders also scooped up gravel and debris through the night.

In some areas, Rooney noted, his crews lifted manhole covers to allow water to recede quicker.

“They popped themselves on East Washington at Countyline and Junior High streets.”

Rooney added the city’s storm water lines are 100 years old or more, and too small to handle the amount of water.

He commended his crew — Sean Foley, Richard Zacharewski, Spencer Lane, Travis Rogan, Faye McLafferty, Pete Searcy and Anthony Laurenza — saying “they don’t get enough recognition for what they do.”

The storm brought Steve Caldararo, owner of Nick’s Auto Body, his own set of problems.

It blew down a wall at his Mill Street business, crushing Mike Fishel’s recently repaired pickup truck.

The rain fell so hard and fast that Mill Street flooded, delaying his workers’ quitting time for an hour and a half.

On the Lower East Side, the courthouse suffered water damage, according to Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler.

He said the boiler room, which houses the heating and cooling systems, and a storage room, holding election supplies, flooded.

Vogler said the flooding requires that filters from the cooling system be cleaned.

“Otherwise, it hasn’t curtailed our operations or offices.”

Brian Melcer, the county’s public safety director, said water may be responsible for damage to a house on Fourth Street in Taylor Township where a basement wall collapsed.

He added two homes in South New Castle Borough may have sustained the same damage.

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