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Mountain runoff isolates Gauley Bridge community

GAULEY BRIDGE, W.Va. — Gauley Bridge Mayor Bob Cole knew he was going to be a busy man when he climbed out of bed on Monday morning. The rain was falling and kept on coming.

“I woke up to the rain, and I didn’t get out until the afternoon on a four wheeler,” Cole told MetroNews.

Cole lives on Scrabble Creek which was covered in a massive field of rocks and debris. The slide made the hollow inaccessible past the football field.

“Unless you’ve got a four wheeler or a really big four-wheel drive, you’re not getting in our out,” he said.

Homes on Scrabble Creek were okay, for the most part. One home incurred some water damage mainly in the garage area, but the rest were above the flood water as it rose amid the torrential downpour which hit the area late Sunday night and early Sunday morning.

The problem was the creek itself. The bank gave away and the water washed rocks, mud, logs, and other debris out into the road. The debris poured into the roadway and eventually rerouted the stream into what had been he roadbed.

“Scrabble Creek is pretty much impassable up past the football field,” the Mayor explained. “It’s just washed all of the rocks out of the hollow. There’s three foot of rocks and gravel in road,”

About all residents along the creek can do is wait on the Division of Highways. Their attention for the moment is on main arteries in the area which were made impassable Monday by numerous mudslides. Progress there is slower than transportation officials would like.

“Our crews in the Cannelton Hollow Road area in Smithers are working to get access for people, and to get to areas where repairs are needed,” said Jim Moore, P.E., District 9 Engineer. “What they’re running into is a soupy material. The area is so saturated that, as they’re clearing away the debris, it’s like working through mud soup.”

Mayor Cole said meanwhile, there is plenty of work to keep up with inside the Gauley Bridge city limits.

“A double-wide about washed off its foundation over at the campground and a couple of other homes had basement flooding. Right now, we’re trying to get the streets cleared off and the culverts unplugged,” said the Mayor.

The last major flood along Scrabble Creek and in the Gauley Bridge area was 2001 when the creek experienced a nearly identical wash out.

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