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SEPTEMBER 17, 2004

HURRICANE IVAN HITS US!

PICTURE GALLERY

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Hurricane Ivan Hits Southwestern Pennsylvania September 17, 2004!

"Ivan finally made landfall, as a weakened Category 5 hurricane, early in the morning of Thursday, September 16."

Ivan's Drenching Devastates Western Pennsylvania
From an About.com Article by Kimberly & Albrecht Powell

Fast rising floodwaters arising from already swollen creeks and streams covered roads, stranded school students, and gutted thousands of area homes and businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania yesterday. Entire towns are devastated, including Etna, Millvale, Oakdale and Carnegie.

While Hurricane Ivan never actually reached southwestern Pennsylvania, its remnants collided with a cold front yesterday to dump 5.9 inches of rain on Pittsburgh in 24 hours, breaking the record set by Frances just nine days earlier. After several hours of rain, creeks started to overflow their banks, deluging streets so fast that many people took refuge on upper floors only to become stranded. Hundreds of school students were trapped at their schools when buses were unable to navigate flooded roadways. At McKee Elementary in the West Allegheny School District, a number of students eventually had to stay for the night. In Carnegie, Chartiers Creek rose so fast that it stranded the town's police chief and more than a dozen others on a bridge, while in Washington County a hearing-impaired woman spent 30 minutes trapped in her car before being rescued by a local officer.

American Mailing's historic building's basement and parking lot flooded

We all saw the torrent of rain but never expected our shop would suffer from this hurricane. Looking out of our front picture windows, Our employees watched as Rt. 40 flooded, cars sloshing through so much water it was treacherous to be out on the road, but our staff simply went on with work since hard rains were nothing new here - or so we thought. One of our staff happened to be passing a side window that faces the lower parking lot (where tenants who lived in the building park, as well as our employees and an auto repair garage that used to be in our lower lot) and noticed the water in a drainage ditch that ran next to the lot start to rise extremely fast. The tenants were called, our employees raced to move vehicles but no one was around with keys for the garage customers' cars. There was no time to get one of the work vans off the lot as the water poured down the entrance to the lot, adding too fast to the raging swelter of water from the ditch. We grabbed a digital camera and shot these images.

Our pressman, Chuck Ackley, struggled to stop the water from entering the basement, pushing paper boxes and anything he could to protect the basement entrance from the fast rising water. Before any of us knew it, Chuck was waist deep in the nasty, smelly water which seemed to combine rain water, sludge from the drainage ditch, chemicals and mud.

We watched as the business across the street - West Penn Wire, which is in Canton Township, fought the water there too as this drainage ditch ran from a hill behind the shop (used to relieve run-off from French drains and other sources), through a small normally meandering stream, under Route 40 and under the entrance to West Penn Wire, down through Canton Township. They pulled out heavy equipment, blocked off their entrance and dug up their lot down to the ditch. The ditch had apparently become clogged over the years, so they bravely fought the raging hurricane to relieve their lots' flooding as well as ours. We watched as these folks struggled to free the blockage from our front window. A tractor trailer, who had also fought the storm to deliver their goods to that facility was stuck in the entrance while this work was going on.

Once the blockage was gone, our parking lot rapidly drained, but the damage was done. Years of stored work for customers, as well as equipment and stock were destroyed. Our staff chipped in to removed damaged items. Our thanks to everyone who helped!

In the known history of this building, there has never been a flood there. Well, we can add that to this old building's history now. Unfortunately for our neighbors, there were so many flooded out and to this day any are still trying to put their lives back in order. Who would have thought - a hurricane in Southwestern Pennsylvania! 

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Steps to parking lot

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