INDIANA — Dallas “Ray” Wood stood on the bank of the small stream he calls White’s Run. It flows south across Clymer Avenue toward the homes he owns in the out-of-the-way “little mining town” he calls Cicero. His sunny, grassy, 11-home neighborhood sits hard by the railroad tracks that slice southward at the borough’s northern boundary.
All of it was inundated on Thursday evening when the rain fell hard and fast, turning little White’s Run into Lake Cicero. In the county, the flash flooding claimed one life. In Wood’s neighborhood, the water damaged almost every one of the 75-year-old properties he said he has owned and managed since 1991.
“All but two of the houses got hit hard,” Wood, 70, said Sunday morning, surveying piles of flood-soaked belongings stuffed into contractor-size plastic trash bags heaped in front of nearly every address in his development. “I never seen it this bad in 30 years.”
At 327 North 10th Street, a mud-flecked Kathy Davis, 45, emptied her soaked basement, with the help of next-door neighbor Christopher Doster, 33. On the sidewalk in front of their houses sat matching mountains of wet stuff drying in the sun.
“I have been here for five years,” said Davis, a supervisor for a local bank. “This is the worst I’ve seen it.”
Davis recalled arriving home around 6:30 p.m. Thursday and peering down the 10 steps to her basement.
“The water was up to the eighth step,” Davis recounted.
Ruined were the water heater and furnace installed within the past two months.
“I was upset at first,” Davis said. “I’m OK. I lost some stuff. It can be replaced.”
Davis praised her landlord.
“Ray was here, on top of everything,” Davis said. “Very helpful.”
At 1011 Chestnut Street, the house was collapsing into its basement. Its foundation was gone in front, the rubble below visible from the yellow caution-taped sidewalk where the signature mountain of stuff mirrored the neighbors’. No one was home.
Next door at 1005 Chestnut, Ingrid J. Krecko, 28, and husband, Ben Shull, 33, loaded a moving van.
“We were planning to move to Kansas on July 28,” said Krecko, a doctoral student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, preparing to complete her degree at Wichita State University. “The flood expedited our move.”
As Thursday’s flood waters rose at around 6 p.m., the couple moved their basement effects up to the first floor before the flood smashed in the basement windows. Krecko credited Shull’s military tours in Afghanistan and Iraq for quick action to avoid losses of their stuff.
“After this, I’m not as worried about tornadoes in Kansas,” Krecko said.
Davis said she, too, had been planning to relocate the following weekend to a different development on the south side of town.
“No basement!” she laughed.
Landlord Ray Wood also pondered what next, including what local government officials will do with funds earmarked for storm-water mitigation.
To the east, Second Ward borough Council member Donald Lancaster described the effect in his neighborhood along Marsh Run, where perennial flooding and storm-water issues in 2012 prompted him to seek his seat on the council.
“The flooding was pretty extreme,” Lancaster write in a June 26 email. “All the houses on my street had basement flooding both from Marsh Run and from ground water and/or sewer back up. Many people had flooding who never had it before.”
Lancaster said Monday’s Public Works Committee meeting heard that five inches of rain fell. This time.