Westmoreland residents in flood-prone areas prepare for remnants from Hurricane Ida

Aug. 31—Diane Batten, who has lived along flood-prone Indian Street in Ligonier for more than a decade, recalled peeking out the window of her mobile home June 3, 2016, before heading out to shop at the nearby Giant Eagle.

Despite a forecast of rain, she didn't see any standing water.

But about 15 minutes later, as she got ready to leave her mobile home, nearby Mill Creek had already had overflowed its banks and water was covering the street out front. A short time later, Ligonier firefighters were knocking on the door of the residence she shares with her husband, Sam, asking her if she had boots so she could evacuate.

"I remember that time the firemen even told me that they didn't even have advance warning ... the rains hit north around Wilpen and up on the mountain and, within a couple of minutes, it all flowed down here," Batten said.

Batten did put on boots and walked to safety, but firefighters had to carry her dog "Bowser" out on a rescue boat.

"Yeah, my dog got the ride in the boat," laughed Batten, who emphasized she was happy that firefighters assisted residents in the neighborhood — as they have many times before.

But the Battens also recalled they lost their Ford Town and Country van to the floodwaters that day. It was parked in front of their home, where the water got more than a foot deep.

The van was valued at $15,000 and Sam Batten said insurance "covered most of the replacement costs."

The couple noted that others along the street have lost cars and trucks, motorcycles and air conditioners to flooding.

Sam Batten was matter-of-fact Tuesday as forecasters were predicting anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of rain in Westmoreland County from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

"Unless it's like in the days of Noah, I imagine we'll weather the storm," Sam Batten said.

But he and Diane are hedging their bets somewhat. The couple is preparing to relocate over the the next two months to a new home in Minerva, Ohio, located just east of Canton. A relative will move into their mobile home.

With rain from Ida predicted, the Battens spent Tuesday morning filling their van and car with belongings and were headed west of the storm's path to drop off the housewares in their new residence.

"We don't plan to be here for this storm," Diane Batten smiled.

In South Greensburg, Donna Testa has lived along Adams Street where Jack's Run flows through her backyard and admitted she's been nervous at hearing the weather forecasts.

"Let's see," Testa said when asked how many times Jack's Run has overflowed its banks.

"One, two, three, four ... at least four times in the last 9 years and I've lived here 27 years," she said.

The last time Jack's Run ran over its banks closing Route 119 South "was about two years ago," Testa recalled. It was July 11, 2019.

Testa's brother, Frank Capasso of Greensburg, stopped by to see if she needed any help preparing for possible flooding in the event of torrential rains.

"I already put everything in the basement up. Later today, I'll put sandbags by my basement door and around the drain," Testa said.

"One time, I had 22 inches (of water) in my basement," Testa said.

"That's fine with me, she's got it all done... I'm retired," Capasso laughed.

Testa noted that many of her neighbors have lost furnaces, air conditioners, furniture and a lot of other valuables because of repeated flooding.

One thing Testa said she is anxious to see is how a new backflow valve installed in a basement drain by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County last year works.

"They installed it last year. We'll probably get to see how that works over the next few days," she lamented.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@triblive.com or via Twitter .