ONNELLSVILLE, Pa. — Having lived for years in the Dutch Bottom area of Connellsville, Glenn and Shelly Siple were used to looking downstream on Mountz Creek for any signs of flooding during heavy rains. That’s because the usual pattern was for water to back up the creek from a swollen Youghiogheny River.
But one night last August, the peril came from upstream, when a rapid 5 inches of heavy rain turned the creek into a torrent, flooding their home up to lightswitch level and causing irreparable damage. The flash flood caused an estimated $7.9 million in damage to hundreds of homes in Connellsville and surrounding Fayette County communities.
It was “a big tidal wave of mud and trees and cars,” Mr. Siple recalled. “I just ran in the house, told her to get on your shoes and let’s go.”
In the following eight months, thousands of volunteers, many from faith-based groups throughout Pennsylvania and beyond, have converged on the Connellsville areay, helping to shovel out one muddied basement or replace one waterlogged drywall section at a time.
Last Wednesday, the Siples and other volunteers from Albright United Methodist Church in South Connellsville were serving hot meatloaf, potatoes and green beans to a small group of Pittsburgh volunteers who had come to work for the week.
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