Nation Now

The latest from the National desk

« Previous Post | Nation Now Home | Next Post »

Flash flood in Pittsburgh kills 4, including mom and 2 daughters

August 20, 2011 |  1:02 pm

Flash flood kills 4 in Pittsburgh

The body of an elderly woman found Saturday in a flood-ravaged area of Pittsburgh brought the death toll from punishing storms in the city to four.

Authorities discovered the body of Mary Saflin, 72, of Oakmont, Pa., who was swept away by flash floodwaters that inundated a low-lying area in Pittsburgh on Friday.

Also killed were 45-year-old Kimberly Griffith of Plum, Pa., and her two daughters, 12-year-old Brenna and 8-year-old Mikaela. They were unable to escape their vehicle when it was pinned against a tree by the rushing waters, authorities said.

Water from two storms overwhelmed the city’s drainage system, submerging dozens of vehicles along Washington Boulevard, a road near the Allegheny River, said Raymond DeMichiei, the city’s deputy director of emergency management.

“It was just too much water, in too small area, over too small of a time,” he said in an interview.

The area that flooded has hills on either side, creating a valley that Washington Boulevard runs through. When rain falls, it rushes into the roadway, DeMichiei said.

Rain pounded the area during rush hour, dropping about two inches of water within two hours. An earlier storm brought about an inch in the morning hours, said Rodney Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

Water was as deep as 9 feet along some stretches of Washington Boulevard, sending commuters scrambling to escape their vehicles and swim to safety. The water pressure in the drainage systems was enough to blow off several 60-pound manhole covers.

“We had geysers here,” DeMichiei said.

The water had receded by Saturday morning, but the roadway remained closed while crews worked to clear stranded vehicles.


Postal Service unveils new stamps, letter-writing campaign

N.Y. winery introduces 9/11 memorial wine — $19.11 a bottle

Boxers or briefs? Neither, lifeguard says in discrimination suit

-- Stephen Ceasar

Twitter: @stephenceasar

Photo: Romy Connolly, right, is helped from a rescue boat by Pittsburgh emergency responders and neighbors after being caught in a flash flood Friday in Pittsburgh. Credit: Associated Press