Flooding Impacts Local Area
Some wicked winter weather wreaked havoc on Wetzel and Tyler counties Jan. 12 after Thursday night and Friday morning rains led to flooding.
Schools were cancelled for the day, and several main roadways were closed.
In Wetzel County, Routes 7 and 20 were closed by Wetzel County Office of Emergency Management Friday morning. The roads were back open that afternoon. In Tyler County, Route 18 was closed from Route 180 intersection to Middlebourne. Elk Fork Road also became flooded.
The Shirley Volunteer Fire Department warned residents to “turn around, don’t drown.” The department stated it was experiencing several cars into the flooded water in the county, “and with the flooding situation we have limited response capabilities to some of these areas.”
By approximately noon, Tyler County Office of Emergency Management Director, Tom Cooper, confirmed that Route 18 was open, along with Route 23, Indian Creek and Wick roads.
By Saturday, residents alongside the Ohio River were worrying about possible river flooding. However, according to the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, the Ohio River at Hannibal Lock and Dam crested at about 29.34 feet early Sunday morning. Flood stage is 35 feet. The higher river waters and large chunks of ice can be blamed for several reportedly damaged docks along the river.
Further north, area responders and the U.S. Coast guard dealt with a potentially dangerous situation on the river as more than 40 barges came free from their moorings early Saturday and were floating freely between Benwood and Moundsville.
Regarding the barge situation, about 45 of the unmanned craft were floating freely on the river, according to a statement released by the Coast Guard.
In response, the Moundsville Police Department closed the Moundsville Bridge to passing traffic at about 7 a.m.
Dispatcher Jerri Moore said the bridge remained closed for three hours as members of the U.S. Coast Guard worked to retrieve the barges. She said multiple barges collided with the bridge’s pillars.
An inspection by the West Virginia Division of Highways found the bridge to be in stable condition, Moore said.
The Coast Guard reported most of the barges had been retrieved by evening.
Murray Energy Corp. spokesman Gary Broadbent confirmed that at least some of the barges involved in the incident are owned by the company.
He said the company was not at fault for them coming loose, but he declined to provide any further detail.
It’s unclear what caused the barges to come free.
Officials with the Coast Guard, which was leading efforts to retrieve the barges, could not be reached for further comment.
Ian Hicks and Alec Berry contributed to this article.