The wall of water that devastated part of Bridgeville last summer came downstream from Upper St. Clair.
Much of the debris that choked McLaughlin Creek usual pathways in Bridgeville came downstream from Upper St. Clair.
Since that deadly night, it has become clear that keeping the McLaughlin creekbed free from debris can help prevent—or reduce the severity of—future floods.
But Upper St. Clair officials have been less than helpful in making that happen along their section of McLaughlin Creek, according to Bridgeville councilman Bruce Ghelarducci, who spoke at a planning commission meeting earlier this week.
“We approached Upper St. Clair in regard to getting the creek maintained upstream,” said Ghelarducci, “but that didn’t go very far.”
Instead, Upper St. Clair’s government has essentially said that it’s not their job.
“They stand on the premise that the property owners are responsible and they don’t have a stake in it,” Ghelarducci said.
Technically, they’re probably correct. Upper St. Clair’s government might not be obligated to do anything. But they could certainly try to help. Especially considering that an Upper St. Clair woman died in that flood; her corpse was found a mile-and-a-half downstream in Bridgeville.
Perhaps the one positive outcome from last year’s flood was that the disaster—and Bridgeville’s ensuing clean-up effort—cleared a tremendous amount of debris from the creek.
When another heavy rainstorm hit a few weeks later, McLaughlin Creek flowed fast, but with nothing to impede the flow, the waters never rose above the shoreline.
“We had a 7-inch rain event that never crested that banks due to the cleaning and debris removal that was done,” Ghelarducci said.
Bridgeville officials haven’t given up on finding common-ground solution with Upper St. Clair and with the other McLaughlin Creek watershed community, Bethel Park.
“We’re looking forward to a couple more meetings with [community engineers] to find a group solution to this problem,” Ghelarducci said.
For now, with the region’s rainiest months upon us, Bridgeville residents hope the creek remains below-bank and debris-free for at least one more season.
Otherwise, as resident Bob Fryer put it, “Bridgeville is Upper St. Clair’s retention pond.”