New Castle News

Closer Look

October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Lawrence County dodges storm’s bullet

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County’s luck held Monday night as the area escaped serious storm damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Brian Melcer, the county’s public safety director, received reports of downed trees and wires, and power outages through out the county, “But it was sporadic. Every municipality reported some damage but no one area was really hit hard.”

Melcer said only 300 customers reported power outages. Most were reconnected before noon yesterday.

 The “most major” road affected by downed trees, he said, was Center Church Road/Route 388 at Route 422 in Slippery Rock and Shenango townships.

“We were told if we saw less than four inches of water, we’d be OK,” he said, adding, “We were well under that,”

Lawrence County received about two inches of rain throughout the day Monday. Another half-inch to three-quarters of an inch was expected to accumulate yesterday.

“It wasn’t like when Hurricane Ivan hit in 2003 when we had back-to-back hurricanes,” Melcer said. He added local rivers now are at normal or a little below normal stages so flooding is not expected to become a problem.

New Castle public works director Mike Rooney said he received only two storm-related calls.

“There was a tree down at Fairmont/Glendale avenues. It was wrapped in wires so we waited for Penn Power.”

Rooney received a call about second downed tree at Green Street late yesterday morning.

Anticipating the storm, Rooney sent his eight-man crew out Monday to check and clean catch basins. The street sweeper spent the day clearing leaves form main streets.

“The steady rain helped,” he said. “We didn’t get hit all at once.”

The New Castle Fire Department, also prepared for an all-out emergency response Monday, was pleased to get to stay indoors, glued to the Weather Channel.

“We got a report of one power line down early on Glendale,” said Joe Bongivengo, assistant chief “We had no flooding, to speak of.”

Bongivengo said the day-long, steady rain Monday did not strain the storm drains as a sudden thunderstorm that would dump massive amounts of rain in a short period resulting in backed up water and flooding.

And wind was not as bad as expected, he said.

“When things aren’t as bad as we expect, we’re glad,” Bongivengo said. “We skated on that one, given what other areas of the country experienced. It could have been a lot worse for us.”

“The worst is over for our area,” agreed meteorologist Tom Green with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

Although downed trees, downed power lines and flooding were seen throughout western Pennsylvania, “No one got everything. We missed the worst of it.”

The area will continue to experience wind and rain through the weekend, he said, “But the high wind warnings are down.”

Western Pennsylvanians can expect “lighter rains” for the next two to three days.

With a four-day forecast for temperatures in the upper 40s, he added, no snow will be seen either.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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