Homes were evacuated and streets were shut down in Sheffield as a result of high water Wednesday evening.
Members of the Glade Swiftwater Rescue Team repeatedly pulled a boat through moving water to bring Tan Street residents to safety. The water running over the road was no more than eight inches deep, but team members could be seen in up to their thighs at certain points in the rescues.
Goldie Adams, a 10-year resident of Tan Street, was the first rescued in that boat.
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Goldie Adams of Tan Street, Sheffield, is brought to safety in a Glade Swiftwater Rescue Team boat by team members, from left, Capt. Dave English, Mark Buck, Roger Winkles, and Brett Weilacher.
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
William Powell of Cherry Grove Volunteer Fire Department ties yellow caution tape to the railing of the Twomile bridge on Main Street in Sheffield after rising water conditions caused Sheffield Chief Bill Dilley to declare the road closed.
Virginia Adams, Goldie's daughter, waited along a portion of the street that was not flooded for her mother to be rescued. "It's never been this bad, never," she said. "This is a lot of water and it's rushing down fast."
After rescuers helped Goldie Adams out of the boat she said she was glad to be safe and appreciated the efforts of the team.
"Beautiful," she said. "Nice people."
"We're walking in, doing evacuations of the people who are requesting to be evacuated," Capt. Dave English said. A mandatory evacuation notice had not been issued by 6 p.m., so residents were allowed to remain in their homes.
On their second trip in, team members Roger Winkles, Brett Weilacher, Mark Buck, and Dick Davis - who took English's spot at the side of the boat - came back with two residents, Jamie Brown and Ron Kelly, and three dogs, two of which belonged to a neighbor.
English recommended avoiding rushing water, even as little as a few inches.
"It is dangerous," he said. "It's swift water. It drops down, it's cavitating in the roadway, and dropping into swifter water."
Josh Whitesel and Chaelynn Highhouse walked from a Tan Street house to safety.
Whitesel's pants were wet above his knees. He described the water as "rather swift."
"This happens all the time," Highhouse said.
"That bridge that they've got up there (on Horton Street) needs to be wider," Whitesel said. He also said that a proposed idea to install a dike should be brought back.
According to English, walking through the water was risky.
"Six to 12 inches of swift water can float a car," he said.
In addition to the danger of being swept away, the water was cold enough to cause problems. "Without the proper attire, a life vest and cold water gear, you could get hypothermia off this water," English said.
Tan Street and Horton Street were shut down. Later, Main Street was closed at the bridge over Twomile Run. Several inches of water was standing in the westbound lane and the businesses along the road.
"People that have lived here longer than I have said it's the worst they've seen in 30 years," Becky Rogowski said. "It's worse now (at 6 p.m.) than it was at 5 p.m. I hear it's supposed to rain again."
Sheffield Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bill Dilley said it was the worst flood event in Sheffield in many years. "I haven't seen water over here" in the park across from the fire hall, he said. "This is one of the worst times I've seen."
In addition to closed streets and water rescues, Dilley was concerned about homes in the water with live power coming into them. "I'm waiting for Penelec," he said.
Sheffield was assisted by volunteer firefighters from Cherry Grove, Glade, Ludlow, and Highland Township (Elk County).
The Red Cross set up a temporary shelter at the Sheffield United Methodist Church for approximately 30 residents.