The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 21, 2014

Bolivar couple rescued from flooding

BOLIVAR — A Westmoreland County husband and wife were rescued from flood-waters Friday after a nearby creek overflowed, authorities said.

An ice jam on Tubmill Creek in Fairfield Township caused water to overrun the banks and pour onto Creek Road, Bolivar fire Chief John Speidel said.

“The house was surrounded by water,” he said. “The wife was in a wheelchair.”

Water rescue teams from Saltsburg and Blairsville evacuated the couple, he said.

The couple’s neighbor and close friend, Linda Henderson, who said she lives three houses from the boat evacuation area, said the danger of ice blockage escalated toward the end of the week.

“It sounded like a train out here and the ice had moved down,” she said. “It jammed up there last week. Today, with this warm temperature, it just broke loose everywhere.”

She said much of the ice was damming up right in front of her house, but it appeared the water level was receding as of Friday evening.

“They aren’t evacuating us. I spoke with some of the supervisors out here and they said we should be OK unless it breaks up and jams under the bridge on (Route) 259,” she said.

“(They said,) ‘If that happens, we’re all screwed.’ “

Two other families were able to get out on their own, Speidel said.

The evacuation took place around 2:36 p.m.

“It took a little time but it went well,” he said.

PennDOT closed the road. It’s hoped the water will recede, allowing families to return. The three families are staying with relatives, Speidel said.

Citizens Ambulance, Ligonier Ambulance and the township EMA director also were on scene, he said.

No injuries were reported.

Pat Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at JustinDennis.

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