KINGWOOD, W.Va. — The rate at which the Cheat River rose Sunday following Saturday night flash flooding is being compared to the tragic flood of 1985.
“It was pretty low initially in the morning and it rose very rapidly. Actually it rose more rapidly than we’ve ever seen it, other than the ’85 flood,” Preston County Office of Emergency Services Assistant Director Justin Wolfe said.
There were 21 swift-water rescues Sunday along the Cheat, including 19 people in one campground, Wolfe said.
“They were all in one spot where they were isolated off with the Cheat River on one side and other small stream that flows around,” he said.
Two other people were rescued by a Maryland State Police helicopter from an island in the Cheat.
“It was too dangerous for the swift-water teams with fast current and debris that was coming down the river so we had to contact them to airlift two,” Wolfe said.
Preston is one of five counties that are under a state of emergency from Gov. Jim Justice. The heavy rain began at about 10 p.m. Saturday. As much as five inches fell in some locations over a very short period of time.
Preston County Commissioner Samantha Stone said there’s some significant road damage.
“Some roads, our major roads, like (U.S. Route) 50 sheets of asphalt just lifted off the road,” Stone said. “The water was coming down off the hills and mountains whichever way it could find and all of the debris it brought with it really damages a lot of the roadways.”
Most of the significant flooding was in southern Preston County.
WAJR’s Mike Nolting contributed to this story.
Justin Wolfe, Assistant Director of the DHSEM in Preston County, talks with @HoppyKercheval about the flood damage in different areas of Preston County. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/hRDqk7lDVJ
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 1, 2019