MORGAN COUNTY, W.Va. — The focus of emergency officials at county and local levels in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle was shifting to damage assessment work on Monday after heavy weekend rain that flooded some communities and covered roads.
As of Monday, flood warnings from the National Weather Service continued for the Shenandoah River, Potomac River, Cacapon River, South Branch of the Potomac River and Opequon Creek in West Virginia along with other waterways in northern Virginia and Maryland.
In Morgan County, the Cacapon River near Great Cacapon reached 16.2 feet early Monday morning — more than seven feet above flood stage.
Sunday brought the worst of the rain there.
“It was Sunday (morning) into Sunday night,” said Dick Myers, director of the Morgan County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
“The rains just kept coming very swift and fast and then, with the already saturated conditions that we’ve had from the rains of May, there was nowhere for the water to go,” Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer told MetroNews on Monday.
On Sunday, he was overseeing the evacuation of Cacapon Resort State Park where high water levels were threatening the stability of a pair of dams for two lakes that support the park and a golf course.
“If the upper one would have broken, it would have went into the lower (one) and it would have been pretty devastating because you would have had quite a wall of water coming down through that area,” Bohrer explained.
By Monday, the threat of a dam failure had passed as waters continued to recede.
Throughout Morgan County, 14 water rescues were performed by seven swift water rescue teams Sunday, mostly involving people trapped in vehicles in high water.
At one point on Sunday, Bohrer said road damage from high water closed all road access to Paw Paw in Morgan County.
“Roads completely washed out or it washed out the sub-surface under the asphalt and then the asphalt then just dropped,” he said.
Limited access to Paw Paw was restored by Monday morning.
Morgan County was one of eight counties under a State of Emergency Declaration from Governor Jim Justice along with Jefferson, Berkeley, Hampshire, Mineral, Grant, Hardy and Pendleton counties.
By early Monday afternoon, the Shenandoah River was expected to crest at Millville in Jefferson County at more than seven feet above flood stage flooding roads and fields, what was considered major flooding, according to meteorologists.
On Monday afternoon, the forecast was calling for crest for the Potomac River at Shepherdstown in Jefferson County at near 23 feet threatening homes on the river near Shepherdstown.
At Harpers Ferry, crest for the Potomac River was forecasted for 21.9 feet on Monday afternoon — close to four feet above flood stage which, officials said, was high enough to flood the Lower Town part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
“We have some floodwaters in two areas of the park and another area that is not accessible due to floodwaters,” said Autumn Cook, park spokesperson. The inaccessible area was Maryland Heights.
When the water is that that high, “Water begins flowing out of the open tunnel between the Potomac and lower town Harpers Ferry, flooding the very end of Shenandoah Street. Backwaters from the Shenandoah River flood even more of Shenandoah Street, including the shuttle bus pavilion.”
“We’re not seeing any water, nor is it projected to see any, in the buildings,” Cook said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Opequon Creek was running three feet above flood stage near Martinsburg as of Monday morning.
Streams in central Berkeley County were under a flood warning until late Monday afternoon.
More than two dozen roads in Morgan County were either damaged or covered with debris from the flooding. Preliminary work along with early damage assessments from the Division of Highways had started.
“Those guys have quite a task ahead of them,” Bohrer said of the need for road repairs from the DOH.
Residents can report stream blockages due to flooding to the West Virginia Conservation Agency at 1-866-UC-FLOOD, 1-866-823-5663.