Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Revitalization

Connellsville, Pennsylvania

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Revitalization


Located 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in one Pennsylvania’s poorest counties, the residents of Connellsville and Bullskin Township are no strangers to flooding.  The City of Connellsville is bisected by the Youghiogheny River and Bullskin Township is located on the western edge of the Allegheny Mountains.   A storm event on August 28, 2016 dropped over 5 inches of rain on the area, flooding homes, damaging roadways and altering the morphology of streams.  Flooding originates from a variety of sources including overburdened storm and sewer drains, steep surrounding topography, and undermined land from coal mining.  During the late 19th and 20th centuries, Connellsville became known as the “Coke Capital of the World” due to the amount of coke produced in its many beehive ovens.  Mounts Creek, a tributary of the Youghiogheny, heavily foods during storm events impacting the Dutch Bottom area of Connellsville.  Large storm events have dramatically altered the shape and size of streams in the area, pushing water into unwelcomed areas.

Flood Forum for Connellsville City/Connellsville Twp and Bullskin Twp was established after the August 2016 flood as a resource for people affected by the flooding—in the months following the August food, residents used the Facebook page as a forum to help each other with transportation, meals, and to disseminate information.   Connected to this is the Flood Recovery Center, administered by the United Methodist Center on Relief (UMCOR).  The Center dispenses privately donated money and services to aid those recovering from flood damages.  Over 150 cases were filed with the Recovery Center following the historic flooding.  Lumber was donated to rebuild homes and Catholic charities replaced water tanks, furnaces, appliances and cleaning supplies.

Despite the unified community effort to build back, the biggest issue facing Connellsville and Bullskin Township is finding the balance between environmental protection and flood protection.  Residents would like to see banks stabilized and restoration work done on surrounding streams to reduce the damages caused when heavy rains hit.

This project has been conceived and designed in partnership with community leaders at Flood Forum for Connellsville City/Connellsville Twp and Bullskin Twp and Flood Forum USA.

Project Team

Community Leads

Coming soon!

Amy Price is the Coordinator of the Flood Recovery Center In Connellsville, PA.

Greg Crossley is the local Emergency Management and County Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster (VOAD) Coordinator for the Connellsville and Bullskin Township areas.

Scientific Liaisons

Dr. Daniel J. Bain is an Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  He received his BA in geography and chemistry from Macalester College and earned his PhD in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on fluvial geomorphology, trace metal geochemistry, and historic land use change.  He studied non-traditional stable isotope geochemistry and catchment geochemistry as an National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the US Geological Survey.  Since joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh he has built a wide-ranging research program focusing on urban systems (e.g., green infrastructure and stream restoration), energy production landscapes (long wall coal mining, unconventional gas extraction), and the role of trace metals in human and environmental systems.

Dr. Eitan Shelef is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  Eitan’s research focuses on the interactions between geomorphology, climate, hydrology, and tectonics using a combination of field methods, process-based models, topographic analysis, and geospatial statistics. Dr. Shelef holds a Ph.D in Geology and Environmental Science from Stanford University, M.Sc in Geology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and a B.Sc in Geology and Environmental Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.



Collaborating Organization(s)

This project is part of one of TEXs’ new cohorts.  TEX has partnered with Flood Forum USA which supports grassroots flood groups across the country by helping them develop strategies for a sustainable future.  TEX is working with ten of their grassroots groups to connect them with scientists who can help them better characterize neighborhood-level flood risks and work effectively with local decision makers to mitigate those risks.

Flood Forum USA