Pine official: Storms produced hail that made ‘chopped salad’ of trees

Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 4:43 PM


Pine Township Director of Public Works Tony Barbarino said township staff was “crazy busy” cleaning up during and after a damaging line of storms moved through Western Pennsylvania last week.

The biggest nuisance was hail that made “chopped salad” of area trees, Barbarino said. It knocked the leaves into the roadways, then the rain washed everything right to the stormwater inlets.

“(The leaves) covered them over immediately, and then they weren’t taking any water,” Barbarino said. “That was unforeseen.”

Typically, when severe weather is predicted, the township will send crews out to make sure the inlets are free from debris and open to receive the runoff, but the hail made that impossible this time, Barbarino said.

Some area roads that don’t have storm inlets saw erosion from all the water, he said.

Irwin Road was one such road. Barbarino said it had a channel about two feet deep cut for about 100 feet next to the roadway from all the runoff.

Crews were busy clearing limbs, young saplings that pitched toward roadways, and even one large tree that fell across Emmett Road.

Another complication in the township came from the closure of I-79 at the Route 910 interchange because of downed power lines and backed-up traffic.

Pine-Richland Middle School was closed May 29 because of a water and electrical issue. The high school delayed its dismissal by about 20 minutes the same day because of road conditions, and the delay trickled down to the other schools.

Things weren’t quite as bad in Richland, said Public Works Superintendent Jerry Reichart, mainly because they didn’t get hail as bad as in Pine despite being so close.

“Relatively speaking, we fared pretty well,” he said.

They had trouble with debris blocking catch basins and the water running up across roads and into people’s yards, and a couple of residents reported water in their basements.

There were two minor landslides — one along Heckert Road forcing the closure of the road overnight May 29, and one in a residential backyard. Heckert Road was reopened May 30.

Willow Run along Gibson Road overflowed into some residents’ backyards, but none reported flooding, Reichart said.

“We consider ourselves lucky,” he said.