Erich Cushey came to work early Friday to find a section of Henderson Avenue in front of his Canton Township business flooded.
“Our entire lot was underwater,” said Cushey, co-owner of Curtis Pharmacy. There was “about a foot” of water inside the store, he added.
Chartiers Creek, which runs behind the pharmacy, was one of a number of streams that overflowed their banks and flooded roads amid heavy rainfall overnight.
The rain came on the heels of a drastic shift in temperatures from the single digits early in the week to a balmy 60 degrees, which melted the coating of snow that had been on the ground.
Freezing rain and snow was expected as the temperature plummeted again to subfreezing later Friday.
Jeff Yates, Washington County director of public safety, said by mid-morning Friday there had been more than 100 reports of basement flooding, “but as near as we can tell, nobody with first-floor flooding.”
Yates said he knew of three instances of firefighters assisting people in getting out of their waterlogged vehicles.
The state Department of Transportation updated its list of closed roads – including numerous ones throughout Washington and Greene counties – several times Friday.
“The key thing is be safe,” said Valerie Petersen, spokeswoman for PennDOT District 12. “If you don’t need to drive, don’t do it.”
Closures in western Greene County included Route 21 and Route 18, the two main highways.
No one had to be evacuated. Some people probably did have water in their homes and left on their own volition, said Greg Leathers, director of the county’s emergency management agency.
“Now, everything is out west, but eventually it will move east,” Leathers said around midday.
Some flooding had already been noticed in the Waynesburg area. Several mobile homes in a low area off Route 21 east of West Waynesburg were flooded, Leathers said.
Water also flooded Waynesburg University’s football stadium on Waynesburg’s south side.
Center Township Volunteer Fire Co. was called early Friday to help people from three vehicles that had attempted to drive through high water on Route 21 in Center Township about two miles north of the Route 21 and Route 18 split.
Lt. Casey Cooke said the department received the first call about 5:30 a.m. He was at the scene later that morning when the third vehicle made the attempt in the same location and failed.
“We were sitting in the fire truck with the red lights on and they went right past,” he said. “I’ve seen (public service announcements) warning people not to drive through water.”
Pictures circulating on Facebook showed a school bus in high water at the intersection of routes 18 and 21. No one was in the bus, Cooke said. The bus had been parked there by the bus company with an advertisement on it seeking drivers.
Several area school districts canceled classes and others that called for early dismissals.
At Mingo Creek County Park, the scene of significant flooding over the summer, “We have no major damage to report, luckily,” said Lisa Cessna, executive director of the Washington County Planning Commission, which oversees parks. “We closed the main road through Mingo Park (Friday) morning about 7 a.m. not knowing how much the water was going to go up. “
The road was cleared and reopened at 10:30 a.m., with mud to be removed from shelters and the bicycle path.
The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh was not forecasting any flooding on the Monongahela River at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Locks and Dam No. 4 in Charleroi. The service expected the river to crest there at 24.5 feet at about 4 p.m. today, 3.5 feet below flood stage.
In Washington, an oil slick from the former Salsberry Bump Shop property on Donnan Avenue percolated during the storm, which warranted a look by the Washington County Redevelopment Authority.
William McGowen, executive director of the authority, said the slick was caused by “leaching leftover gasoline that’s been in the soil for years and years. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Civil and Environmental Consultants Inc. of Pittsburgh checked the site, which was remediated last year.
By mid-morning, Cushey was in mud boots and working with a small crew that also included his wife, Tina, to clean up their store as the water receded.
“I sent my staff to Claysville,” said Cushey, referring to Curtis’ other location. “The nice thing is we can fill everything out of Claysville.”
A neighboring business seemed unfazed.
“In here, it’s not too bad,” said Tom Rogers, an employee of Interstate Pipe & Supply.
But behind the shop, however, the creek had spilled over its banks and flooded its pipe yard.
“We can’t do anything until it recedes,” Rogers said. He added, “This stuff is made to get wet, so, no, there’s no damage. Just a muddy mess.”
Staff writer Scott Beveridge contributed to this report.