Last weekend heavy rains—several inches within an hour overnight Friday—flooded communities from Ohio County in the Northern Panhandle down through North Central West Virginia. Much of the damage seemed to follow along the route 250 corridor.
As many as 400 homes and businesses in Marshall County sustained water damage. The worst of it was in McMechen, where runoff roared down the hillside and flooded the town. Several dozen people had to be rescued from their homes by emergency workers and volunteers in boats.
In the Wetzel County town of Hundred, the community spent the last two years raising money for a new fire hall. They opened the building just two weeks ago, only to see it flooded last weekend. Five feet of muddy water soaked the brand new building and damaged or destroyed several emergency vehicles.
Wetzel County House of Delegates member Dave Pethtel said his town has been devastated. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen water this high before,” he said on MetroNews Talkine Monday.
In Littleton (Wetzel County), Rachel McDiffitt waded through waist-deep water to get to safety. She came back after the flood waters receded to find her house and car destroyed. A few items that belonged to her late daughter were covered in mud.
The Marion County town of Mannington was hard hit. Some there are calling it the worst flood in 40 years. Shelia Higgins looked out her front door Saturday morning and found the water surrounding her truck and up to her porch. “I was really scared,” she said. What’s left behind are mud and a terrible smell. “It’ll take a while to get dried out.”
The Marion County 911 center reported 30 water rescues during a 12-hour period Saturday. Miraculously and thankfully no one died.
Those who had water and mud damage got busy cleaning up as soon as the flood waters receded. Volunteers started showing up to pitch in. Some of the first to respond came from communities that suffered though the devastating flood of 2016, returning the favor for the help they received.
Meteorologists said the flooding rains were caused by an unusually strong weather pattern normally associated with fall or winter. The Nor-easter triggered heavy rains and flooding throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
West Virginia is particularly vulnerable to flash flooding because of the steep mountains and narrow valleys. The ground and valley streams simply cannot absorb several inches of rain over a short period of time.
We’re told that death and taxes are life’s only certainties, but in West Virginia we have to add one more–flooding.