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Communities Hit Hard By Hurricane Ivan In 2004 Brace For Ida

ETNA, Pa. (KDKA) - The remnants of Hurricane Ida are headed this way and are expected to dump massive amounts of rain in a short period of time, raising concerns about flash flooding.

In 2004, rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan caused massive flooding in towns like Carnegie, Millvale and Etna, and those towns are now making preparations for Ida's impact.

Seventeen years ago, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan dropped more than six inches of rain on Etna, causing the worst floods in a generation. With Ida now approaching, the borough has made preparations so it won't happen again.

After a day of relentless rains, the flood water came fast and furious, a towering wall of water rising out of Pine Creek, instantly turning streets into rivers and neighborhoods into lakes, flooding more than 400 homes and businesses in Etna alone.

Watch as KDKA's Chris Hoffman reports:


Ivan's 5-foot-high flood surge is marked by a line in Alioto's Bar, and bartender Judy Sundo remembers the day employees and customers ran for their cars and their lives.

"Just pulled out just in the nick of time and the next day, tables were overturned, mud -- you couldn't even get down here," said Sundo.

With those memories of Ivan still fresh and Ida on the way, Etna's public works crews got busy Monday in preparation, cleaning out storm sewers and attaching flood barriers to borough hall for protection against high waters. But other measures have been years in the works.

During Ivan, massive amounts of debris piled up against a bridge, creating a dam and spilling floodwaters into the street. The borough hopes that raising it and the adjoining railroad bridge will prevent that. Further upstream in Shaler, pillars have been installed to trap debris before it gets that far. They're all lessons learned since Ivan.

"It did really galvanize us to address stormwater issues to the best that we can," said Etna Borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramage.

The hope is that if Ida or any other flood event threatens, the borough and the residents will be prepared. Etna has also installed water level monitors and has a text alert system to issue warnings or evacuation orders to ensure the past does not repeat itself.

The hope is "God willing and the creek don't rise." But if it does, the hope is also these measures will prevent the kind of devastation brought by Ivan.

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