AURORA, W.Va. — “A lot of cleanup work” is what a member of the Aurora Volunteer Fire Department saw as he looked around his Preston County town in the days after flash flooding that dumped heavy rain on the northeastern West Virginia mountains.
In Aurora, the National Weather Service estimated about four inches of rain fell quickly late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, but officials in the NWS Pittsburgh office said they were hearing anecdotally about locally higher amounts of up to six or seven inches of rain.
Members of the Aurora Volunteer Fire Department, including Lt. Trevor Alexander, were first called out for the storms around 2 a.m. Sunday.
“We actually got a tree down call out on the Aurora Pike. From the time that we went on that to no water laying on the road, to coming back to approximately four to five feet of water in the roadway” was how quickly he said the water rose.
The highest official rain total reported to the National Weather Service out of the storms was 5.5 inches at Davis in Tucker County.
A weather observer recorded 4.71 inches at Bayard in Grant County by 7 a.m. Sunday.
Those were confirmed amounts.
Actual rain totals could be much higher depending on location.
By Tuesday morning in Aurora, “Things are looking a lot better than what they were,” Alexander reported.
“We still have several roads closed due to the undermining of the roads, culverts washed up and more debris in the roads.”
All of the major roads in Aurora were open to traffic as of Tuesday.
At one point immediately after the storms, “There was only one way to get out of Aurora and that was to go down Cheat Mountain towards Rowlesburg,” Alexander said.
It took repair work from crews with the West Virginia Division of Highways to clear Route 50 which was closed immediately after the storms near the border with Maryland due to damage.
Some water made it into the Aurora VFD building itself.
Outside, the department’s parking lot showed signs of the storms. “That is no longer usable due to the flooding. It ripped all the blacktop up. It’s got big sinkholes in it,” Alexander said.
Homes in the area also saw water.
“We have a lot of flooded structures that we’ve spent a lot of time out with pumps, trucks, pumping basements — anything that we could pump to help somebody out, we were doing,” Alexander said.
Damage assessments from local, county and state officials continued on Tuesday in Preston County and throughout the storm zone.
A State of Emergency Declaration also included Grant County, Pendleton County, Tucker County and Randolph County.
Both Preston County and Tucker County were among the West Virginia counties under a marginal threat of locally strong to severe storms with potentially damaging winds as well as additional localized flooding from Wednesday through Monday, according to NWS.
The storm threat also extended through the July 4th holiday weekend in the Northern Panhandle, Eastern Panhandle and southeastern West Virginia counties.