A short spell of hot, dry weather had McLaughlin Run almost on empty, as Ed Curigliano observed early on the evening of June 20.
“It was literally trickling,” he recalled.
As more customers started to show up at his business, Piccolina’s Northern Italian Restaurant at Pinebridge Commons in Upper St. Clair, he left the deck overlooking the waterway to go inside.
Then the rain started about 8 p.m.
“It was roaring, and it was just underneath the bridge,” he said about the connection between McLaughlin Run Road and the Pinebridge parking lot. “A customer asked, ‘Is that high?’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s very high. Once it goes over the bridge, you’re in trouble.’”
Within 15 to 20 more minutes, it was over the bridge, over a walkway and had reached the back of the building before flowing into the restaurant.
“We’ve been through two other ones like that, but this was more quick, more intense and more damaging. It’s never come into the restaurant like that before.”
Angy Grady, his daughter, arrived around 9:30.
“When I got here, you couldn’t even walk onto the walkway, because the water had basically engulfed our parking lot,” she said of the current that was strong enough to displace some of the vehicles. “The water receded pretty fast, and we were able to get in.”
The current, she soon discovered, also was strong enough to dislodge a sizable refrigeration unit that was attached to the building. While the unit still appeared to be functioning as family members continued cleanup efforts early the following week, they were unable to open the door to assess the damage.
Other damage was all too evident, including food that had to be thrown away, carpeting that was cut out and discarded, and cabinets containing files that were too soaked to be of further use.
“Nobody was hurt. We keep saying that. Nobody was hurt here,” Grady said. “But this is our family business.”
Curigliano and his wife, Debbie, opened Piccolina’s in 2001 and had built a loyal customer base. Some good news is that many of them turned out to lend a hand and provide other support, such as cooking meals.
Also on the positive side, Servpro restoration service professionals have been of great assistance, according to Debbie.
“These guys have stood beside me,” she said. “When Ed and I have had our heads down, basically there’s somebody here to say, ‘Don’t worry. It’s going to get better.’”
At this point, though, no one knows whether that applies to the restaurant’s future, along with the livelihoods of the Curigliano family and the people they employ.
“There was nothing we could do,” Grady said, “but basically watch it all get completely ruined.”