High water invades Buckhannon

The Inter-Mountain photo by Sarah Goodrich Areas in Upshur County see flooding Monday, including portions of downtown Buckhannon, where many roads were closed.

BUCKHANNON — Steady rainfall Sunday evening and Monday morning caused several roads in Upshur County to close as the Buckhannon River and area streams flooded. Upshur County Schools were canceled Monday because of flooding in the area.

With a portion of Buckhannon within a flood plain, areas near downtown Buckhannon experienced flooding, including Jawbone Park, parts of Madison and Florida streets and Wood Street.

A local state of emergency was issued based on a moderate threat level of flooding in the county, while Monday afternoon, Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for 10 counties, including Upshur, Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Tucker and Webster.

“State and county emergency officials are currently evacuating some of the locations affected by high waters and the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated and is coordinating with officials in the declaration area to determine their needs,” says a press release from the governor’s office. “The West Virginia Army National Guard has been put on stand-by to assist.”

At 3:30 p.m. Monday, members of the Upshur County Commission hosted an emergency meeting, putting Upshur County on a countywide state of emergency.

The proclamation stated Upshur County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Brian Shreves identified 27 locations of road closure due to high waters.

Following the announcement of the local state of emergency, Mayor David McCauley released a statement.

“I encourage you to refrain from travel as much as possible until the waters recede this evening. Please check on your elderly or disabled neighbors, and make certain pets are not in peril in areas of rising water. If you have an emergency, contact 911,” McCauley said, adding city personnel would begin cleanup operations as the water goes down.

In a press release, Buckhannon city engineer Jay Hollen advised Monday morning that “the water level of the Buckhannon River at the Hall Road Gaging Station is 22.63 (feet). Minor flooding may occur at 23.00 (feet) and moderate flooding may occur at 25.00 (feet).”

A food warning from the National Weather Service advised the Buckhannon River was expected to crest at 26 feet and 3 inches by 8 p.m. Monday.

Other areas that experienced flooding included Sand Run Road, Upper Sand Run Road, Yoakum Road, Boy Scout Road, River Church Road, Burnt Bridge Road, Midvale Lantz Road, Lantz Road, Vicksburg Road and Handy Camp Road. By Monday afternoon, several more were reported to be experiencing high waters.

Adrian Volunteer Fire Department reported that several roads were impassable, including Alton Road at Wares Bridge, Waterloo Road along Route 20, Slab Camp, Freeman Road, Gould Road in Adrian and both lanes of Route 20 in Adrian near the post office.

Though high-water signs were placed near several county roads, some motorists still attempted to cut through the high waters.

Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jamie Pugh said the department, along with Upshur County EMS, responded to a water rescue around 7:30 a.m. Monday on Burnt Ridge Road.

Pugh said no one was injured, and the person was able to get on top off of the vehicle until first responders arrived on scene. Buckhannon Fire Department responded to water rescues throughout the day, as well.