Oct 08, 2018

Pennsylvania Residents Are Losing Their Backyards to Flooding

Hurricane Ivan in part to blame for Pennsylvania residents sinking property 

Hurricane Ivan in part to blame for Pennsylvania residents sinking property
Hurricane Ivan in part to blame for Pennsylvania residents sinking property.

Carnegie residents who live along a tributary of Chartiers Creek in Pittsburgh, Pa., said the stream’s tendency to swell with rainwater is taking a toll on their property. It resulted in the toppling of embankment walls and sunk nearly half of a resident’s backyard.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, resident Debra May said the damage to the walls and her property was caused by a June storm that flooded parts of Carnegie. She said the trouble in her backyard began when it was damaged in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan.

“Believe it or not, we used to have a swimming pool in that backyard,” May said. “I grew up there. It was a functional, whole yard.”

The borough is responsible for embankment upkeep north of the bridge on Morrow Avenue spanning the stream. Army Corps of Engineers inspected May’s yard and those of her neighbors but said they do not have jurisdiction over those homes, according to flood control project boundaries.

Charles Infantino, emergency manager for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District, said the borough should pursue repairs on it’s own and apply to have the embankment brought into a Corps program called Public Law 8499. The program would provide insurance for the embankment after its reconstruction and fund 80% of future repair fees should it be damaged again.

“That would be the best process,” Infantino said.

Steve Beuter, Carnegie Borough Manager, said the municipality has been aware of the flood damage in town for some time but is awaiting official correspondence from the Corps before taking the next step. Borough workers removed concrete slabs from the stream that had dislodged from the embankment in May’s backyard and laid them back against the soil, per Corps recommendation.

Beuter said the borough will continue to work with the Corps to find a solution.

The communication has proved frustrating for many residents. May and neighbor Terry Hart, whose backyard is beginning to sink in places, have complained to the Carnegie borough council numerous times since June.

“You get one story from the borough, and you get another story from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Hart said.