WV prepares for heavy rain, flooding as Ida pushes inland

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Heavy rainfall and flooding is expected across West Virginia as the state braces for the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida.

Parts of southern West Virginia, including Mingo and McDowell counties, already experienced some high water Monday morning from separate storms that occurred Sunday night.

Greg Fuller, deputy director of the state Emergency Management Division, said he’s concerned even more rain could be a recipe for disaster.

“People underestimate the power of water. Just a few inches of water can move a car and float it into danger,” Fuller said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana Sunday afternoon before weakening to a tropical storm. At least one person died. More than one million households there were left without power as wind gusts topped 100 miles per hour.

Forecasters predict the Mountain State could see 2-4 inches of rain between Tuesday and Wednesday. The heaviest rain could fall in the northern panhandle.

“There will be a band of 4-6 (inches) maybe locally higher just to the north and along the track of Ida. Right now, that area looks to be the northern part of the state, but that could shift around a little bit,” said Tony Edwards, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, on Monday’s “Talkline.”

A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for the entire state from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon.

Parts of Logan, Lincoln, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties were under a Flash Flood Warning.

A Flood Warning was issued for parts of the Little Kanawha River in Calhoun, Gilmer and Wirt counties.

Edwards said weather statements could change as they continue to monitor conditions.

“There will be areas that get the heavier rain that will likely upgrade to warnings,” he said.

Monday’s wreck involved two tractor trailers. (Photo courtesy Nitro Fire Department)

Heavy rain in the Kanawha Valley Monday afternoon contributed to several wrecks including a collision involving tractor trailers at the Interstate 64 exit at Nitro. All lanes reopened at 3 p.m.

Governor Jim Justice has issued a State of Preparedness for all 55 counties. Fuller said the order gives state agencies the ability to mobilize in natural disaster situations.

“We are standing by. We’ve already reached out to our partners doing situation updates and we’re doing resource inventories to make sure what resources are available across the state,” he said.

Members of the West Virginia National Guard met on Monday to prepare for Ida response efforts.

Fuller is urging all West Virginians to have an emergency kit with enough food and water in case they need to evacuate.

High water is expected impact roads, bridges, rivers and streams. Fuller said even small creeks can be affected as a result of the state’s terrain.

“We absolutely stress turn around, don’t drown because every time we have these flash flood situations, we end up with situations where people in vehicles become trapped and their lives become endangered,” he said.

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