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Etna dealing with flooding, evacuation after overnight heavy rains continue into the morning

Evacuation remains in place in Etna
Evacuation remains in place in Etna 02:19

ETNA, Pa. (KDKA) - An evacuation remains in effect in Etna until further notice due to ongoing flooding from the rain. It's an area that commonly experiences waterways overflowing. 

Leaders there told KDKA about 20 to 25 houses flooded overnight Thursday into Friday by Dewey and Martha, and for some, it was the second time in about a week.

John Mertens was sweeping water in his basement once again Friday morning.

It's not unusual for him to find a foot of water down there after heavy rainfall and rising levels at Pine Creek. He even has his washing machine, furnace, and hot water tank on blocks.

"You could see a watermark by that door," Mertens said.

Thursday night, when the rain kept coming, he knew it was time to take action.


"I said well, let's start getting everything off the floor," Mertens said. 

Water levels on the creek, reached as high as 14 feet, with borough leaders like Manager Mary Ellen Ramage issuing an evacuation notice to those living in low-lying areas.

"This rain was over a shorter period of time, the same amount of rain, but over a shorter period of time, and that's when usually we experience the sewer backups first," Ramage said.

Before that, they set the sirens off at 13 feet and made reverse 911 calls to share instructions on what to do if you live in a floodplain, like moving vehicles to higher ground. By the morning, crews from USGS were out measuring the water flow.

"We want to just keep people aware and paying attention to what the levels of the creeks are," Ramage said.

As the weather continues to fluctuate, Ramage wants people to stay cognizant. She's thankful though things so far haven't been as bad as in 2004, when Ivan hit and flooded 400 homes. Mertens had six feet of water on the first floor.

"The whole basement was covered," Mertens said.

Now, while he hopes for a break from the rain, he'll deal with whatever Mother Nature brings.

"It's a burden, but it's one of those things you just suck it up," Mertens said.

If you need a place to go, there's a shelter at Emmanuel Lutheran Church at Grant and Highland Avenues. 

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