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Thursday flooding caused by clogged drains and waterways

Quick downpours in parts of Cambria and Somerset counties caused quite a mess Thursday evening. Several local roadways were flooded with several inches of water, causing a dangerous situation for drivers.

Ohio Street in Johnstown was just one of dozens of spots people reported flooding in the area. But it may not have all been because of the rain. 

The amount of rainfall we got was significant but the National Weather Service says it wasn't quite enough to issue a flash-flood warning. They did though after hundreds of people called 911 to report flooding and officials said it was all caused by backed up drains and streams. 

"In mountainous or hilly terrain, the water has to run downhill and that's what happened yesterday," said Ron Springer, director of Cambria County Emergency Services. 

That's what happened at the bottom of Eisenhower Boulevard in Stoneycreek Township. The road had to be closed for a short amount of time as several feet of water ponded across and into the flow of traffic. 

And authorities say leaves, tree limbs and other debris clogged up many drains and waterways, like Sam's Run in Lorain Borough.

"That caused overflowing where the channel probably would have been able to handle it like it has in the past but yesterday with the debris, it caused it to overflow it's banks and spread out into the neighborhoods," said Springer. 

The backup was so bad that at one time Ohio Street looked like a small river. 

"It's because the rain quit in time and the ability for municipal and emergency services crews and the redevelopment authority being able to respond and get work done immediately throughout the incident," said Springer. "That saved us."

Springer said his department sends memos to municipalities every year around hurricane season reminding them to keep waterways clear, but he said it would be beneficial if they would maintain the practice all year long. 

"I would hope that they have a program continuously in their own municipality to take care of this stuff," said Springer. "I know many do, but it has to be going. We just can't have them say, 'we did it last fall,' and then well, 'we're not going to do it this fall again'," said Springer.

Fortunately Springer said no one had to be rescued Thursday and there wasn't any major damage reported.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times