Winter Brings Wicked Weekend Weather
Folks in the Ohio Valley witnessed some wicked winter weather over the weekend. Heavy and steady rains caused creeks, streams, and ditches to overflow Feb. 16, making for flooded roadways in Wetzel and Tyler counties. Tyler County Schools closed due to flooding, and the Tyler County Education Association cancelled an informational picket that was scheduled for that evening. The TCEA’s picket was to be held on the bridge at Tyler Consolidated High School. Areas of Route 18, Elk Fork, and Big Run, along with Route 23, flooded. Flooded areas in Wetzel County included the Route 20 areas of Piney, Jacksonburg at Legion Park, and the bottom of Slim Chance Hill. North Fork Road and Mannington Road also experienced flooding. At 1:06 p.m., Feb. 16, the Office of Emergency Services had reported a mudslide on Route 20, near the Jacksonburg Pitstop in Wetzel County. The West Virginia Department of Highways was expected to take care of the situation.
Meanwhile, in Tyler County, the Shirley Volunteer Fire Department responded on Saturday to a slip of the Route 18 roadway between Boreman Elementary School and the 4-H Grounds. The road has been reduced to one-lane.
Late Friday and into Saturday, the attention turned to the riverfront properties in the Ohio Valley.
The Ohio River at Hannibal Lock and Dam crested at 35.61 feet on Feb. 19, at around 1 a.m. Flood stage is at 35 feet. The actual crest was a bit below the predicted 36.2 crest. However, it did not come without its issues. As the river waters rose, drains throughout the riverfront communities backed up, along with the smaller, nearby tributaries. Sistersville and Paden City parks experienced flooding on Friday and Saturday. Waters were still receding on Monday, so damage could not yet be completely assessed; however, Sistersville Councilman Alex King said he had spoken to Audist and Dave Pancake, who confirmed that items will need replaced for the park and pool.
“We are likely looking at an extensive clean-up process,” King said.
Paden City Mayor Ken Stead said floodwaters had reached the city’s little league field. He said he had not assessed damages to park equipment, such as swings, yet, but he could confirm that some of the low-lying areas of the park had been flooded.
Stead noted that a big clean-up would be necessary, once the waters receded.
As for Sistersville again, “the Sistersville Ferry, Legacy” Facebook page reported that “the ferry is safe.”
“Our captain had the houseboat tied to the ferry yesterday night because, much to our dismay, the Maxwell docks are breaking apart. We will keep you posted as the river level drops.”
New Martinsville Park also experienced flooding, along with Magnolia High School’s track and football field.
Notably, New Martinsville Parks and Recreation, via its official “N.M. Parks” Facebook page, thanked the “awesome men and women that work for the various City of New Martinsvile Departments.” The parks department shared photos Saturday afternoon, of volunteers clearing seats from the Lincoln Theater.
In Ohio, Route 7 between Sardis and Duffy closed on Saturday and through Sunday morning, due to river waters crossing the roadway. Monroe County was also under a Level Two traffic advisory, due to accumulating snowfall on Saturday afternoon. Area counties were under a Winter Weather Advisory on Saturday, due to moderate snowfall.
Meanwhile, New Martinsville Police Department released a warning Saturday evening, asking individuals to not travel in the downtown New Martinsville area, “due to flooding and weather conditions.” NMPD stated there would be increased patrol to monitor the area.
An hour later, NMPD Chief Tim Cecil released a follow-up message, telling residents that, unless they live in the downtown area, or are patronizing downtown establishments that are still open for business, to “be courteous and stay out the of the downtown area.”
Chief Cecil said NMPD had issues of motorists driving through the high water, “pushing it into establishments and basements and also driving through yards.”
“Those who continue to cause issues in the area will be stopped and possibly cited,” Cecil said.
Chief Cecil noted that “Although we love seeing an increase in traffic in our downtown area, and we understand everyone is excited to sight-see, we ask that you respect those that live and operate businesses in downtown New Martinsville.”
As the floodwaters receded on Sunday, riverfront businesses and individuals began the cleanup process. Martin Avenue resident Ryan Yost said he had 21 inches of water in his basement.
Mayor Steve Bohrer noted that the only business really affected was Quinet’s, which was closed on Saturday and Sunday. The business didn’t take in water, but employees are still working to get disinfect and get equipment moved back in order. Bohrer noted that the business had plenty of help in preparation for the flood, as folks helped move the equipment and items to higher ground.
Bohrer noted the police have been busy in discouraging people from going downtown to sight-see. He said the next few days would be busy for the city, as crews will be working to get streets open. “If people are driving by, take precaution around the crews that are doing the clean-up,” Bohrer said.
Bohrer noted that the city was fortunate that the water didn’t reach the levels that had been predicted. “We are thankful for that,” he said.
“Once the water levels go down, the park commission and city crews will be in Bruce Park, to get it cleaned up,” Mayor Bohrer said.
Councilwoman Iris Isaacs agreed with the mayor’s sentiments, noting that all departments would be working together to clean up the city.
“I think when things like this happen, all city employees work together,” she said.
Bev Gibb, New Martinsville Parks and Recreation director, noted that her department was as prepared as much as possible. “We received about two-and-one-half feet in the basement of the Lincoln Theater. All the city departments joined in and helped our department to pull the seats and put them on the stage, along with the piano.”
“We emptied out the mini golf building prior to and I am happy to say it just missed getting into the building. It did get onto the course some. There was probably about a foot inside the pool entrance, locker rooms and restrooms. It is never easy or fun to clean up after any flooding.”
“Adding to the issue is the fact that Bruce Park has been winterized so the water lines are not put together for use. But, it has been much worse and we will persevere and will have things back in order as soon as possible,” Gibb said.