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Allegheny County Response to September 17, 2004 Floods Following Hurricane Ivan

DHS Summary Report of Activities

When several communities in Allegheny County were suddenly flooded on September 17, 2004 in the wake of tropical storm Ivan, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) immediately responded.  The following activities were reported between September 17 and November 10, 2004.

  • The Allegheny County Public Inquiry Line answered approximately 3642 phone
  • During the first weekend (Sept 18-19), AAA staff served 16 hours and AAA provider agency staff served 47 hours at the Emergency Management Operations Center and community-based emergency response centers.
  • AAA provider agency flood relief staffing totaled 177 staff days or 1,262 hours from September 18 to November 10, 2004, and AAA providers assisted over 2450 seniors
  • During the disaster recovery phase (Sept 20 – Oct 25), 31 AAA staff and 33 AAA provider agency staff served 985 hours at the recovery centers, crisis centers  and Red Cross headquarters.
  • AAA staff assisted older adults who were evacuated to emergency shelters; expedited temporary relocation of six to a personal care facility; 50 PDA Waiver consumers were contacted and two were placed in nursing home respite settings.
  • AAA assisted the American Red Cross in staffing three disaster recovery centers in Carnegie, Millvale, the CCAC North Side Campus, and downtown.
  • AAA and OBH staffed five crisis centers by Red Cross in Carnegie, Etna, Bridgeville, Oakdale and Millvale. 
  • 3,186 older adults were contacted in 35 communities during the phone outreach campaign (Nov 9-10) totaling 230 hours and resulting with 94 reports referred to AAA Care Management.
  • AAA assisted in targeted door-to-door canvassing of severely affected communities; provided AAA services and guided older adults to file claims to secure services through other organizations such as FEMA/PEMA.
  • AAA incurred expenses of $148,258 for flood relief efforts from September 18, 2004 to present.  Services include staff time, emergency placements, meals and food, space heaters, medical supplies restoration, appliance replacement/repair, dehumidifier, furniture replacement, stair ride, household repairs/restoration, mold removal, U.S. Postal Carrier outreach/printing, and the phone bank outreach campaign.
  • AAA and provider agency Care Management staff identified 1400 vulnerable older adults living alone and contacted 150 high risk consumers in seriously affected communities to determine their condition.
  • Three older adults were relocated to emergency shelters
  • AAA and provider agencies met with flood relief groups and community stakeholders and launched outreach programs through Senior Centers, U.S. Postal Service and by telephone to identify and assist other older adults and with programs such as home-delivered meals, mold removal, and appliance replacement or repair.
  • The DHS Mental Health Crises Line received 275 phone calls related to stresses brought on by the flooding.
  • DHS Mental Health professionals worked with the Red Cross workers who went door to door to do assessments and in shelters. They did crises counseling,   active listening, and making sure that people know where to go for mental health help.
  • A minimum of twelve (12) DHS staff volunteered to help Red Cross case manage individuals who have been assessed.
  • An estimated 1150 people were seen by MH counselors in shelters and door-to-door outreach.
  • The Urban League received 230 calls on its food voucher program and 57 calls on its rental assistance program.  
  • OCR contacted libraries in affected communities and, for those w/out a library, surrounding communities and faxed out information about the FEMA site and DHS services available. 
  • DHS staffed the Disaster Recovery Center on the CCAC Allegheny Campus.  The staff of program offices were available seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Disability Connection received 15 calls from people who lost durable medical equipment, such as motorized wheelchairs, wheelchair lifts, and stair glides, in the floods and from callers who needed someone to help clean up the mud from their houses and/or replace ramps that had been washed away.  Also, some calls were from people with disabilities needing an accessible place to live temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.
Housing and Hunger efforts

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank:

  • Provided bottled water to flood victims in Shaler, Etna, Millvale
  • Acted as a clearing-house for financial, food, and material support from the community
  • Coordinated financial grant from Mellon Financial for Carnegie Food Pantry
  • Duquesne warehouse served as staging area for Salvation Army Emergency Relief Vehicles
  • Worked to replenish lost food and equipment from their 350 member network of emergency feeding agencies

Urban League of Pittsburgh:

  • Prioritized application process (48 hours) for Rental Assistance Program
          (First month’s rent, security deposits, etc.)
  • Assigned staff in the community to assist with Rental Assistance applications

Hunger Services Network/Urban League:

  • Provided emergency food vouchers for redemption at Giant Eagle Supermarkets

Community Human Services, Inc.:

  • Provided rental assistance and help with household needs
  • Assigned staff to community centers to help with the application process

Health Care For the Homeless/Primary Care Health Services:

  • Assigned staff to community centers for physical health care needs and housing resources

Just Harvest:

  • Distributed information related to re-authorization of lost Food Stamps due to the flood
Summary of Allegheny County Flood Recovery Activities
September 2004 to September 2005 

Following the immediate crisis of the floods, DHS has been involved in the following activities to aid in the recovery efforts of individuals and businesses affected by the floods.

  • Project Renew – Allegheny County, crises outreach
    1. FEMA Registrations: 7,753
    2. Crises Counseling Program   Regular Service Program (CCP RSP) allocation: $187,084
  • Allegheny County has two mental health Outreach Crisis Teams (four workers and a leader each) who:
  • visit/revisit homes in the communities,
  • provide information on contacts for assistance; stress reduction; how to progress toward recovery, and
  • record log of unoccupied homes and general information observed.
  • In June, the Project Renew Teams visited the following communities: North: Oakmont (102 homes), Verona (132 homes, two businesses), Tarentum (63 homes, one business), Fawn Township; South: Carnegie (232 homes, 84 businesses), Heidelberg (198 homes, 10 businesses).
  • During June, 69 families became active with the Long Term Recovery Team (LTRT) to address needs that they identified to the outreach team member.
  • Several were instructed on how to locate the local food pantry because they spent their grocery money on necessary items for home repair.
  • Three individuals were given contact information for the Area Agency on Aging, a father was provided information on Career Links after he had lost his home and job because of the flood.  Families were directed to the Adventist Community for furniture, clothing and food.
  • Staff from Project Renew – Allegheny County, continue to attend the local (LTRT) meetings and the Region 13 Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) meetings.  Issues that need to be addressed are presented for action, if possible, by LTRT and/or VOAD.
  • Allegheny County received a National Emergency Grant Flood Disaster Project funding from the U.S. Department of Labor / PA Department of Labor & Industry for $2,000,000 for temporary job creation and $310,000 for workforce development.
  • The purpose of the grant is for 1) Cleaning, repair renovation and restoration of damaged and destroyed public structures, facilities, and lands located within the designated disaster area; and 2) Temporary job assistance to eligible individuals who require help in returning to the workforce after completion of temporary employment.
  • The Communities served are Carnegie, Leet Township, Hampton Township, Sharpsburg, Bridgeville, West Deer, South Fayette, Oakdale, Plum, Scott Township, Indiana Township, Baldwin, Etna, Millvale, Shaler, Franklin Park, Oakmont, Tarentum, McDonald, and Fawn Township.

Several work crews were in place and working by the second week of December, 2004, and we have been adding additional crews throughout 2005.  Crews are still being dispatched, and will continue to be until the end of September.  Work primarily involves removal of flood debris from stream banks, streets, catch basins, parks and municipal buildings.  Restoration work has also included interior painting of Public Works buildings damaged during the flood.  Work crews of approximately 10 participants each are dispatched daily to separate work sites.  (See attached chart of work site locations, COGs involved, and degrees of completion as of August 1.)

In addition to those sites on the chart, the following is a list of other affected communities and status of completion of recovery work as of August 1:  Harmar Township (10%),  Hampton (95%), Franklin Park (100%),  Heidelberg (25%).

The job creation component of this project is winding down, and there will no longer be funds to support the crews after September 30.
Working with Goodwill Industries and the local Career Link system, Allegheny County
DHS recruited eligible individuals using the following methods:

  • A bulk mailing to individuals receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) due to the flood, informing them of the project and the available jobs, with instructions on how to apply;
  • A Job Order posted on the Career Link website which included a detailed description of the parameters of the job and a schedule for planned Group Orientation meetings;
  • Beginning the week of November 15, Group Orientation Meetings held throughout the County in the following areas:  Pittsburgh (Southside), Carnegie, Sharpsburg, New Kensington, and McKeesport.

Within the ensuing several weeks, Goodwill Industries began interviewing applicants while at the same time receiving and evaluating applications for worksites submitted by the COGs.

Allegheny County DHS has received an additional $310,000 in NEG Disaster funds to incorporate a workforce development component into the job creation project.  DHS is in the beginning stages of this second component, but the following is what has been decided thus far:

DHS will once again contract with Goodwill Industries, who will conduct workshops and provide job development services for participants in these temporary jobs.  In addition to conducting special workshops at their location on the Southside, Goodwill will be developing employment plans that will include attendance at workshops currently available at our comprehensive Career Link Centers.  Additionally, training opportunities will be made available to interested participants when appropriate.

Work Site Locations & Completion Status 







Borough Streets, parks, parking lots


Quaker Valley

Leet Township

Big Sewickley (stream bank cleanup)


North Hills


Pine Creek (stream bank cleanup)


North Hills


Stream banks - Pine Creek


North Hills


Main Street & Riverfront


North Hills


Grady's Run Creek debris removal




McLaughlin Run Creek - debris


North Hills

West Deer

Deer Creek @ Rt. 910


North Hills

West Deer

Little Deer Creek



South Fayette

Morgan Park, Millers Run,
Robinson Run, Chartiers Creeks


North Hills

Shaler Township

Big Pine & Little Pine Creek


North Hills

Franklin Park

Wexford Run, Sewickley, Pine Creeks




Community center cleanup


Allegheny Valley


Plum Creek cleanup debris


Allegheny Valley


Bull Creek stream banks




Robinson Run Creek bank cleanup


Turtle Creek


Plum Creek & Millers Lane creek


South Hills

Scott Township

Chartiers Creek


Allegheny Valley

Fawn Township

Bull Creek - 1 mile long
(stream bank cleanup)


North Hills

Indiana Township

Rawlins Run, Little Deer,
Deer Creeks


Streets Run
Watershed Assoc.


Streets Run, Glass Run Creeks


In addition to the Project Renew- Allegheny County Mental Health Outreach Teams, the following groups and agencies remain active in the flood recovery efforts:

The Southwestern PA Long Term Recovery Task Force

DHS staff has actively participated with this Task Force since flooding in September 2004.  The group, formed after the national VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) model came together to help coordinate governmental, community and faith based groups so the entire community can collaborate for the best interest of flood victims.  As of August 2005, he group is still meeting two times per month and has provided a central place for the neighborhood specific groups to come together and coordinate services provided to County residents.
The committee seeks to strengthen area-wide disaster coordination in the affected areas by:

  • sharing information
  • simplifying resident access to services
  • equitably managing and dispersing charitable funds and commodities
  • provide collaboration to jointly resolve cases with disaster-caused recovery needs
  • coordinating volunteers

    c/o Christian Associates of Western PA
    204 37th Street, Suite 201, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

The SWPA Long Term Recover Task Force meets often, approximately once every two weeks, and through some fundraising the group was able to award grants of $5000 to the community-specific Long Term Recovery Task Force groups.  They sent out a press release announcing dangers of rebuilding too quickly after having mold problems & identified a homeowner for an article in the post gazette.  They initially pulled together a list of local groups & services responding to specific communities throughout Southwestern PA that was an internal source of referrals for those already involved in flood relief efforts.  They have continued to bring in pertinent speakers to keep group members updated on the most current information available to residents and business owners.  
Long Term Recovery Groups in Allegheny County are providing a variety of services to residents affected by flooding after Hurricane Ivan.  These services may include case management, referrals to appropriate community resources and connection to reputable contractors to rebuild.  They may have vouchers available for food, clothing, and building supplies.  They will also take monetary donations and distribute them equitably throughout their communities.

Greater Chartiers Valley Long Term Recovery Team
Serves southern Allegheny County.

Etna Team for Neighborhood Assistance (ETNA)
Serves Etna, Shaler and Hampton Townships
Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Grant & Highlands Avenue, Etna, PA 15223

Millvale Assistance Team (MAT)
Serves Millvale.

Network of Hope Flood Recovery Center
Serves Sharpsburg, Blawnow, O'Hara, Indianola, Fox Chapel, and Aspinwall.
2201 Duncan Avenue, Allison Park, PA 15101

North Hills Community Outreach
Serves all northern communities in Allegheny County outside the City of Pittsburgh.
1975 Ferguson Road, Allison Park, PA 15101-3235

Adventist Community Services
Serves Allegheny County and located in Bridgeville, maintaining a collection site for furniture, clothing and household goods.
Sharpsburg Flood Relief Team
Serves the Sharpsburg area.