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FLASH FLOODING

Downpour causes rising water throughout area

August 29, 2013
By Brad Johnson and Melissa Toothman - Managing Editor and Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Overnight showers followed by a day-long downpour caused flash flooding in Randolph and Barbour counties Wednesday.

"It's been the usual problems we have when it rains this hard," Bob Pingley, operations manager for the city of Elkins, said Wednesday evening. "You just have too much water coming down too quickly."

Pingley said "slow-draining lines and catch basins" throughout Elkins led to long hours for city workers.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Anthony Gaynor
The Elkins Shopping Plaza’s parking lot looks more like a pond Wednesday afternoon after heavy rainfall all day. Several areas in Randolph and Barbour counties experienced flash flooding throughout the afternoon, as the downpours led to storm drains, culverts and ditches overflowing. Some roads in Barbour County were closed temporarily due to flood waters.

"We've had crews out all day trying to help with the problems and we've still got guys out this evening," Pingley said.

"Most of the problems seemed to be in south Elkins. Those lines are real flat," Pingley said. "They don't handle heavy rains like this very well. We've had lines plugged up down there today."

Other Randolph County locations hit by flood waters Wednesday included Dailey and the Chenoweth Creek area.

Elliots Ridge Road resident Russell Henline battled rising water much of the afternoon Wednesday. The water filled the ditch across from his new residence and eventually flowed under his home.

"I was sitting in the house and it came all of a sudden," he said. "I have not seen anything like this since the 1990s."

Henline stood in the shin-deep water and dug ditches around his home to prevent damage to the underpinning.

Barbour County experienced rising waters as early as 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, the county's Office of Emergency Management director, Cindy Hart, said.

Hart said that the hardest-hit areas in Barbour County were Galloway and Brownton.

"There was nowhere for the water to go," Hart said, adding that flood waters subsided throughout the day. "There was a significant amount of water, but it went down quickly. Nobody was hurt."

Hart said law enforcement officials were traveling the county's roads throughout the day, as many residents called to ask about road closures. She said there had been some closures earlier in the day, but by 3 p.m., those roads were re-opened.

Hart cautioned citizens not to drive through standing water on the roads, but to report it so that the OEM is aware of the problem areas.

The rising waters came as a surprise to Barbour County, Hart said, because the National Weather Service had not predicted it, which would have allowed the OEM to warn citizens of the potential for flash flooding.

Hart said a representative with the National Weather Service wrote in an e-mail to her that the failure to report the flash flood warning was being internally investigated.

Hart said that even though the flash flooding came as a surprise, things turned out fine in the long run.

"Everything is good," Hart said. "It's just a storm."

National Weather Service meterorologist Mike Zwier said today should offer a brief reprieve from the rain.

"Things will be drying out after midnight" Wednesday night, Zwier said.

"The Randolph and Pocahontas areas may see some showers in the higher elevations, but Elkins should probably stay dry (today)," he said. "You will see some fairly thick, low-hanging clouds through the day, but that should break up by the evening."

The NWS is forecasting a return of rain and thundershowers on Saturday and Sunday, continuing through Labor Day on Monday.

 
 

 

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