Luke Ravenstahl has broken his silence on Friday's flooding, with extensive comments on the four deaths and improvements necessary at the intersection of Washington & Allegheny River boulevards. He said he was "not necessarily 100 percent satisfied" that water (not infrastructure) was the sole culprit for the tragedy, and noted he was out of town the day of the storm.
In his first extensive comments since a flash flood killed four people Friday, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today said he was devastated about the tragedy and vowed that improvements are coming to Washington Boulevard.
Mr. Ravenstahl said the city already is planning for heavy rain that Hurricane Irene might bring to Pittsburgh later this week and that officials plan to err on the side of caution. If that means closing a road prematurely or unnecessarily, he said, so be it.
"Certainly, we're all devastated by the tragic events that took place on Washington Boulevard," Mr. Ravenstahl said.
"It's our goal now, collectively, to find answers. There are still many questions that are unanswered at this point."
Mr. Ravenstahl declined to speculate on the possible causes of the flash flood, saying that will be the work of engineers and other experts.
"This is an engineering issue. This is a water issue. This is a drainage issue. This is a sewer issue," he said.
Reacting to statements from Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority that water volume was the culprit, not the quality of their systems, Mr. Ravenstahl said, "I'm not necessarily 100 percent satisfied with that answer yet."
Mr. Ravenstahl said he was out of town Friday night when the flooding occurred but monitored the situation by telephone. He said he was back in town Saturday. The first comment on the flooding from Mr. Ravenstahl's office was a statement issued about 4:15 p.m. Saturday.
"I don't know that my location at the time of the rain would have changed anything," he said.