Watch CBS News

Flooding Leaves Homeowners And Businesses Wondering Who Should Clear The Creeks

PENN HILLS, Pa. (KDKA) -- When Plum Creek roared out of its banks and swept cars from Steele's Auto Service into the creek, it also did a number on the business.

"We got destroyed," Mary Steele said.

The Steeles are putting their business back together and taking appointments, but Mary is worried about the eroded remains of Plum Creek.

"Whoever's in charge of this creek, they don't have the drainage," Steele said.

Christine Washington can relate as she looks at the once serene stream coming through the woods behind her home.

On Monday, it became a roaring nightmare. Some water got into her garage, and she is worried she won't be as luck the next time.

"My concern, at this point, is that this creek is going to overflow again and the water is going to come down again through the yard," Washington said.

Creekside residents and businesses in Penn Hills, Plum, Monroeville, Verona, Oakmont, and beyond are wondering who's responsible to keep the creeks clear and flowing.

"The adjacent property owner has some responsibility for that," Penn Hills Municipal Manager Scott Andrejchak

"If it's a private property owner and their creek is in their right of way, they are responsible," Allegheny County Public Works Director Stephen Shanley said.

From the municipalities, to the county, to PennDot, the creek clearing policy is consistent. They only deal with creek and stream problems on their own property.

Shanley defines those areas as, "A bridge and overpass over a stream. It could be various structures that convey the water under our roadways."

While the municipalities will do an assessment and help where they can, generally anything else is on the adjacent property owner.

Andrejchak said the only restriction is putting heavy equipment into the stream.

"Who's going to move the rocks and the branches and trees that are in there by hand?" Restaurant owner Phil Monico said. "That's insane."

Monico has a restaurant on one side of the creek and a bar on the other. Both were damaged, and he estimates his losses at over $40,000.

The municipalities and the county encourage those near streams to let them know if the blockage is beyond your capabilities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a statement on the creek clearing rules to KDKA.

"The owner of the waterway (creek or stream) obstruction (bridge, culvert, etc) is responsible for keeping it clear of debris. The owner of a property with a creek or stream running through or adjacent to it is responsible for clearing debris that could cause flooding. DEP has a guide to provide municipal officials, businesses, and homeowners with information on removing debris from waterways and when permits may be required.

"In addition to DEP, County Conservation Districts are a valuable resource. Municipal and county governments, watershed organizations, or other entities may have resources and assistance available for flood mitigation or stream stabilization projects."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.