MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A state of emergency is in effect in eight West Virginia counties following flooding late Friday night and early Saturday morning.
Marion, Monongalia, Harrison, Taylor, Tucker, Wetzel, Marshall, and Ohio counties are all currently operating under the state of emergency. Taylor and Tucker counties were late additions to the Governor’s state of emergency declaration.
MORE read final DOH road update from Saturday evening
Governor Jim Justice announced the mobilization the National Guard and Division of Highways personnel Saturday afternoon.
“We are extremely saddened and deeply concerned for all West Virginians that are experiencing flooding and damage right now,” said Gov. Justice. “We have mobilized our National Guard and Highways personnel and they are assisting other first responders from across the state to make sure our citizens in these affected areas are being kept safe and out of harm’s way. Numerous evacuations have and are continuing to take place and as of right now no fatalities or serious injuries have been reported-and we want to keep it that way.
“I of all people know how terrible these situations can be after experiencing the tragedy of the flooding in West Virginia during June 2016,” Gov. Justice added. “But West Virginians are strong people and in this time of need we will do everything we can to aid our neighbors. After the waters recede we will work with them to begin clean-up and start the recovery process from this horrible devastation.
“I urge all West Virginians to join Cathy and I as we continue to pray for the safety and well-being of all of our citizens that have been impacted by this flooding.”
Water rescues began in northern Marion County around 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Teams from Kanawha County and Harrison County were dispatched to assist and support the effort. First responders successfully made more than 30 rescues in the Mannington and Rachel areas of Marion County. No injuries or deaths were reported.
The Red Cross announced shelters have been opened in Marion County at North Marion High School in Rachel and Hundred High School in Hundred in Wetzel County.
“The Red Cross is helping those impacted by the flooding and will continue to help meet their immediate needs of food, shelter and distribution of cleaning supplies. Our hearts go out to all of those affected and we will continue to be available to them as they begin to recover,” said Erica Mani, chief executive director for the American Red Cross West Virginia Region.
Red Cross damage assessment teams spent Saturday going through the flooded counties.
Dominion Energy is experiencing a loss of service in those areas affected by the flooding. Spokesperson Bob Fulton released the following statement, asking customers not to attempt to restore service themselves:
“Due to flooding in several areas, some of Dominion Energy West Virginia customers are experiencing a loss of natural gas service and reporting an odor of gas. Due to high water, crews are having difficulty reaching some of the affected areas. As the waters recede, crews will be able to access the affected areas and restore service. If you have lost service contact Dominion Energy West Virginia. Due to safety concerns, do not attempt to restore your service. Thank you.”
The DOH has announced the closure of dozens of roads throughout all the impacted counties in the State of Emergency, including Doddridge County, Preston County, and Brooke County.
Three small streams that run through the Marshall County town of McMechen turned into raging rivers late Friday night during a flash flood that left behind damage to at least four dozen homes along with the town’s fire station and city building.
“We measured 5.56 inches of rain in an hour,” McMechen Mayor Gregg Wolfe told MetroNews as he surveyed the damage Saturday morning.”It just overwhelmed three streams that run through the center of town from the top of the hills. It was just a typical flash flood.”
There were several reported water rescues in McMechen as well.
“We got great help from rescue people from all the towns. What a great help,” Wolfe said.
Monongalia County suffered most of its damage on the county’s western end.
Delegate John Williams (D – Monongalia, 51) traveled around the county when the rain subsided Saturday morning.
“Looking out toward Dunkard Creek is flooded very badly if you are going westward,” he told WAJR-AM in Morgantown. “And so far as I can tell you it really starts around Mason-Dixon Park.”
Several roads in the Wadestown area, where they were celebrating the 90th Battelle District Fair this week, are closed.
“I stopped at a gentleman’s home,” Wiliiams said. “He looked like he had water very closely encroaching on his property. I stopped and asked if he would like a ride or if there is anything I could do. He said he thought it would be fine, but he said he thought the water was still rising.”
In Preston County, a number of major and minor roads remain closed early Saturday evening due to rock slides and high water. Dispatchers with the Preston County 911 Center are warning residents to remain cautious. The Cheat River is expected to crest at 8:00 p.m. Saturday night at 21.53 feet.
Major flood stage begins at 22 feet. If the Cheat River reaches major flood stage, dispatchers warn residents that low-lying structures will be impacted. Additionally, Rt. 72 South/River Road is expected to take the brunt of the river’s punishment.
Harrison County is presently under a state of emergency, but the major problems appear to be localized close to the Harrison-Marion County line. 911 officials told the AJR News Network that only slight damage from flooding had occurred.
“I have no reports of significant damage at all,” said Paul Bump, director of Harrison/Taylor 911 Center. “I have been calling the office asking where the problem areas are, and it’s our typically roadway flooding areas.”
Shift Supervisor Sgt. Mick said much of Harrison County’s damage has been in and around Shinnston and northern Harrison County.
“There’s some flooding, and there’s some road closures,” she said. “There’s a lot of trees down where the ground is so saturated, the trees are just falling over.”
In Ohio County, authorities described Saturday morning’s flooding as some of the worst they had seen since Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Reports have been limited, but MetroNews confirmed similar saturation and flooding in the Wetzel County town of Hundred.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin released the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“Today Governor Justice declared a state of emergency for eight West Virginia counties because of extreme flooding,” Manchin said. “I’ve been in touch with state and local officials and my office is ready to assist in any way possible. Gayle and I send our thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by this flooding.”
Dryer weather is in the forecast for the region Sunday, but a flood watch is in effect through 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening for Randolph, Taylor, and Barbour counties.
A flood watch remains in effect until 8:15 p.m. Saturday evening. While additional rainfall is unlikely in the Northern Panhandle or the Morgantown area, the watch remains in effect for Marion County.
A flood advisory is also in effect for Tucker County until 3:15 a.m. Sunday morning.
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey warned against price gouging in connection with the emergency situation. State law prohibits certain consumer items from going up more than 10 percent from what it sold for 10 days before the declaration.
“I’m very concerned by the pictures, video and reports coming from areas of northern and north central West Virginia,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I join countless others in praying for those impacted and the first responders rushing to render aid.
“West Virginians pull together in times of need. We look forward to working with consumers and businesses to help those most impacted by the flooding,” Morrisey said in a statement released Saturday.