Ten years ago this month, hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, especially Southwestern Pennsylvania. A state of emergency was declared in sixty-six out of sixty-seven counties. At the time of this flood, in addition to practicing law with Abes Baumann, I was also the Mayor of Millvale, PA.
Millvale was one of the hardest hit communities in Pennsylvania. Over four hundred homes and over two hundred businesses were compromised by the flood waters and devastation.
As Mayor, the most important thing was to emphasize to the residents and the business owners that recovery would come quickly. In that regard, we set up a command center and a recovery center and worked to provide food, shelter, clothing and cleaning supplies for those effected by the flood. Millvale was visited in the days subsequent to the flood by local, state, and national leaders, offering assistance. President George W. Bush, Senators Arlen Spector and Rick Santorum, Congresswoman Melissa Hart, and County Executive Dan Onorato were several of the many leaders who came to Millvale to tour the devastation, receive a briefing on the recovery efforts, and offer assistance.
The experiences that I have had as a trial lawyer representing claimants in Workers’ Compensation cases, was a significant factor in my ability to work with the community in its recovery. Like the clients I represent, the residents of Millvale found themselves in a situation that they didn’t ask for, nor which they had expected. Counseling and working with them to recover and get on with their lives is one of the things I take pride in as a trial attorney.