RANDOLPH COUNTY, W.Va. — In Harman following weekend flash flooding, “There’s water where I have never seen water before in my life,” reported Delegate Cody Thompson (D-Randolph, 43) as cleanup work began in the aftermath of strong storms.
Thompson, a Randolph County native, made it to Harman on Sunday after heavy rain that dumped more than four inches of rain on communities in West Virginia’s northeastern mountains in a span of just a few hours from Saturday night into Sunday morning.
The hardest hit areas were to the east and northeast of Elkins, according to reports to MetroNews.
“I know in Harman, it (the water) actually picked up and moved school buses. It flipped them over. It moved tractor trailers, so it was a massive amount of water and very, very powerful,” Thompson said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 1, 2019
As he was on the air, teams from the West Virginia National Guard and the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management were beginning to arrive in Randolph County to join local and county officials in the storm response.
Also on Monday, Governor Jim Justice officially filed a State of Emergency Declaration which initially included five counties: Grant, Pendleton, Preston, Tucker and Randolph due to the flash flooding.
No deaths or significant injuries were reported in the high water.
As damage assessments began in earnest, though, major damage was being reported to several homes and businesses in Harman.
Of that number, “That’s going to go up as we are able to get on the ground and do closer and more detailed evaluation,” said Michael Todorovich, director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
“I do believe that most of it (flood damage) is going to be highway and that type of structural problems.”
Mike Todorovich, Director of @WVDHSEM, speaks with @HoppyKercheval about the flood damage that occurred this past weekend, flooding cleanup, and what’s next. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/Rx1wfD7i8c
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 1, 2019
Jimmy Wriston, acting commissioner for the state Division of Highways, agreed.
Route 33 to the east of Elkins into Pendleton County was a problem area on Monday morning.
“There’s several spots along (Route) 33 that we’ll be working on putting back the shoulder and taking care of slips. Once you get to Harman there, the roadway is right there along the stream,” said Wriston who surveyed damage in Harman personally on Sunday.
“They had a lot of rain. There was quite a bit of damage on the private side and on the roadways as well.”
Thompson had camped on Saturday in Randolph County and saw some rain, but not a lot.
“Just a few miles — five, six miles on farther east — it dumped potentially seven inches of rain down in a matter of four hours. It’s unreal. I was a true, genuine flash flood,” he said.
As of Monday morning, some residents were still trapped because of washed out bridges and other damage in the storm zone, including in Whitmer and Job.
“I’ve seen some aerial pictures of Seneca Rocks at the height of the flooding and it was completely surrounded by water,” said Thompson.
In Grant County, the small community of Bayard saw the most damage. The National Weather Service said the community picked up 4.71 inches rain Saturday night into Sunday morning.
Grant County 911/Emergency Management Coordinator Peggy Alt said residents in 30 homes in Bayard had to evacuate. She said the local VFD stepped up.
“The little Bayard fire department, hardly ever gets a call, they evacuated their little community. They took care of it and every other fire department in this county helped them,” Alt said.
State emergency management officials are expected to tour Bayard Wednesday.
Alt said cleanup buckets from VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) will be set up in the county Tuesday. Alt said she continues to do damage estimates.
The storm response was being coordinated through the West Virginia Emergency Operations Center.