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Heavy rain floods roadways, causes mudslides in southern counties


The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Roads in Raleigh and Fayette counties were closed Monday, as emergency crews worked to clear flooded roadways and restore power, but emergency officials reported no injuries around the region.

Flooding was caused by rainfall which fell Sunday night and Monday, pausing Monday afternoon for a few hours in the region.

National Park Service personnel scramble to get sandbag barriers up around the old bank in Glen Jean as flood waters persist after heavy rains Monday afternoon.
(Photo by Brad Davis)

Mark Wilson, assistant director for the Raleigh County Emergency Operations Center, said that W.Va. 3 and County Route 1 were closed in several spots along Dameron, Dorothy, Rock Creek, Stover and other areas as flooding in the region caused rockslides and mudslides.

“We do have a few homes that are flooded, but we are not activated at this time and are not under a state of emergency,” Wilson said around 5 p.m. Monday. “Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, no pun intended, we won’t have to.

“We do have responders on the scene down there (at Dorothy and other areas in the western part of the county), and they are taking care of it.”

Firefighters from Fairdale, Whitesville, Coal River and Clear Fork departments were clearing road blockages.

Wilson reported that American Electric Power crews were also in the unincorporated neighborhoods in western Raleigh County to restore electricity to several areas. West Virginia Department of Transportation crews were helping with road clearance.

“The reports I’m getting right now is that the road is expected to be clear by nightfall,” Wilson said at 5 p.m. “No guarantees, but that’s what they’re thinking they can possibly do.”

Beckley saw flooding on several roadways, including Robert C. Byrd Drive near Ewart Avenue, but motorists didn’t report traffic obstructions, Wilson said.

“Most of that is what we call street flooding, and it usually has to do with backed-up drainage and things like that,” he explained. “Generally, they take care of that pretty quickly.”

Residents reported high water in Bugger Hollow and Sycamore in Raleigh County.

In Fayette County, Pax, Glen Jean, Scarbro, Minden and Rock Lick saw severe flooding, with roadways in Minden closed as Arbuckle Creek rose and covered the streets.

All roads entering the town of Pax were closed as of 5:45 p.m. Officials had detoured traffic to an emergency tunnel.

Minden residents were concerned that flooding would release PCBs that are stored at the old Shaffer mine site. Federal agents with the Environmental Protection Agency are scheduled to sample soil and the creek to check for PCB contamination this month and in July.

PCB spreading by way of flood is one of many serious reasons why residents in Minden want relocated to safer homes, Suzy Jenkins of Headwater Defense, a Minden residents’ group, reported in a press release Monday.

“The flooding today is a good example of how PCB gets transferred around. Flood water washes it through the mud downstream into people’s yards,” Darrell Thomas of Minden was quoted in the release. “It floods at least three times a year, and the manholes like the one in front of my house are just piping that PCB oil everywhere!”

Residents have reported that water is coming to the surface from the same abandoned mine voids that were used as a PCB dump Jenkins stated. “All of these pathways of contamination movement are viewed by residents as a threat to human health and safety,” Jenkins wrote.

A Fayette EOC shift supervisor reported that Shirley’s Market Road toward Glen Jean was closed around 5 p.m., and Route 12 was being re-opened by crews which were removing downed trees from the roadway.

Several roads were closed at Pax, at Wills Branch Road at Weirwood, at Paint Creek and Horse Creek Road in the Lively area.

No injuries were reported in Fayette County, he said.

Wyoming County EOC officials reported flooding along Route 85 between Kopperston and Oceana and in Cyclone near Huff Mountain. All roads were passable Monday evening, they added.

Summers EOC operators said they’d had no reports of flood-related emergencies in the area, even though the National Weather Service had placed the county under a severe weather warning.

National Weather Service forecasts called for a chance of additional showers Monday night for Raleigh, Summers, Fayette, Wyoming and Greenbrier counties.

— Reporter Rebecca Hinkle contributed to this story.

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