RIPLEY, W.Va. –The National Weather Service warned isolated and training thunderstorms had been possible just about anywhere in West Virginia this week and wherever those happened to hit could expect high water. The spot Mother Natural evidently selected was the town of Ripley and parts of southern Jackson County on Wednesday evening.
Several inches of rain fell between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. The deluge was more than the local drainage system could handle in such a short span of time.
“The ground had been so saturated, we’ve had nothing but rain and it really had nowhere to go,” said Montana Boggess, director of the Jackson County 911 center.
As the town was being flooded with water, the 911 switchboard was being flooded with calls.
“We saw more impact to things parked outside like cars and trailers. We had a couple of reports about homes where their foundation had shifted,” Boggess explained.
Ripley Elementary School was inundated with water. Close to three feet rose throughout the entire building.
“Fortunately for us, Ripley Elementary is a block construction building and there is very little drywall. All of the water has no been cleaned up, but now we’re dealing with wet carpet and things of that nature,” said Jackson County School Superintendent Will Hosaflook.
Not far away, water rolled into the gymnasium at Ripley High School ruining a brand new floor.
“We had just replaced the gym floor and they were about five hours away from putting the final coat of polyurethane on it,” he added.
Despite the damages, Hosaflook vowed school in Jackson County will start on time.
Surrounding counties took on water as well. Numerous roads were covered as culverts backed up and floated debris out into the roads in many rural locations. The Division of Highways spent much of the day clearing the secondary roads.
In Doddridge County, the county senior center was knocked off its foundation in the middle of West Union by a mudslide from the rail trail behind the building. Nobody was hurt, but the damage was extensive.
There was basement flooding and some property damage in Ritchie County in the McFarland community. Roane County had a lot of trees down blocking county roads, but no reports of flooding other than the normal low lying spots.
Forecasters said cooler temperatures are expected to arrive with the passing of the next front which should be out of here by Friday morning.