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Ridgway businesses cleaning up, working to reopen quickly

Updated: Thursday, May 22 2014, 05:38 PM EDT

Reported By: Erin Calandra
Written By: Marc Stempka

RIDGWAY, Pa. -- Shops in Ridgway's central business district and West End were some of the hardest hit by flood waters as the Clarion River overflowed, pouring water into the downtown and creating a wet, muddy mess.

Business owners said Thursday that there is a lot of work to do to get their establishments up and running again as damage estimates from Wednesday's flooding could top hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Keith McMahon works in a building in the West End and said the water was moving and rising so fast, whatever was in the way was going to be moved.

"It was taking everybody's stuff. Whatever was in its way, that's what it took," McMahon said.

The Rite Aid on West Main Street is one of the few pharmacies in the borough. Crews are now working around-the-clock to make repairs and try to re-open. In the meantime, customers are being asked to pick up their prescriptions at a store in St. Marys.

The Sheetz on North Broad Street is arguably one of the busiest places in town at any hour of the day. It was under water Wednesday and will be closed until repairs are made. Officials said the gas tanks underground were not damaged by the flood.

In the West End, a building those houses 13 business may have taken the brunt of the storm. Some businesses in the structure have waterlines as high as 6 feet on their walls.

McMahon said the water was moving so quickly that he and his co-workers needed to be rescued by boat.

"The water was just coming up into the building. There was like 3 to 4 feet of water I the building," McMahon said. "Plus, there was a couple transformers blowing. So we just has to seek higher ground."

Patrick Buehler was helping clean up a popular downtown bar, Brews and Cues. He said the bar was 3 feet under water.

"The bar is lifted up and the bottles were floating everywhere and there's music equipment floating," Buehler said.

In addition to the flooded businesses and homes, dozens of vehicles have also been destroyed.

Disaster recovery teams are expected to be in Ridgway for several days helping residents and business owners assess their damages.

Ridgway businesses cleaning up, working to reopen quickly

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times