By SCOTT McCLOSKEY
The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — Two Wheeling newlyweds spent what was supposed to be the beginning of their honeymoon Monday helping their family clean up after flash flooding struck the Edgwood section of Wheeling Sunday evening.
Many residents said they don’t recall ever seeing flash flooding hit such a wide area of the neighborhood so quickly.
Those living along Edgington Lane and Elm, Miller, North Park and South Park streets could be seen throughout the day Monday carrying debris out to the curb or hosing mud from their sidewalks and driveways.
Katie and Nick O’Malley of Wheeling — who just celebrated their wedding Saturday at Oglebay Park — said they are doing everything they can to help Katie O’Malley’s parents, Jay and Cathy DeFruscio and her sister, Lucy, who live on Miller Street and were impacted by the flooding.
“We were sitting at the dining room table trying to figure out the (honeymoon) flight information and a guy came up with a flashlight and said we need to move our cars … and we walked outside and it was flooding. … Between these two houses, it was just a straight river going through really fast,” Katie O’Malley said.
Many family members and friends were on hand helping the DeFruscios clean up their property.
Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia said in the 39 years he has worked for the city, he cannot recall flash flooding affecting such a large portion of Edgwood.
Jebbia said while Elm Street has seen flooding over the years due to Elm Run flowing between the street and homes along it, the impact was more widespread this time because of the enormous amount of rain the area received in such a short amount of time.
“We’ve never had this large of a problem out here. … We had reports that we had anywhere from 2-4 inches (of rain) in 45 minutes … so the amount of rainfall with all the debris that got washed down … those things added together ended up with the result that we have,” Jebbia said. “We have everyone out today — everyone we have available. I’m even using the water department’s equipment and their manpower.”
Jebbia said there were a number of bridges in Edgwood beneath which a tremendous amount of debris became clogged, causing water to run down many streets in that area.
He said the city Operations Department has as many crews out as possible working to clear the streets, sidewalks and streams.
He advises residents to place any flood-damaged belongings and debris out on the curb, without putting it in the street, so crews can get to it. He said the city will work as quickly as possible to collect those items.
“We will try to get there and get it as soon as we can and get it cleaned up the best we can,”said Jebbia. “We are just limited on our equipment. Unfortunately this isn’t the only area (of the city) that got hit.”
He said another ongoing issue is the number of cars that have debris stuck under them. He said crews have to work around these vehicles, making it more difficult to clean off the streets.
West Virginia Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, said Monday he spoke with representatives from Gov. Jim Justice’s office, who told him they don’t expect to issue a state of emergency for the area because it doesn’t meet the criteria for federal assistance.
“However, the National Guard is present in Ohio County as well as the Department of Highways. … The Governor’s office indicated that if the city/county needed their assistance that they would be available if necessary,” Fluharty posted to the Facebook page for Wheeling’s 4th Ward.
North Park Street resident Ralph Jorden, who was fortunate to escape the flooding, said he hasn’t seen conditions that bad since 1956, when he was a firefighter working at the Edgwood fire station.
“It looked like a river coming down here,” Jorden said, pointing at North Park Street. “I was a fireman in 1956 and they had the same thing happen. … It was my first year on the job.”
South Park resident Pat Wood, who was busy scooping up large chunks of asphalt in the alley near his garage, said this is the first time he experienced flooding in the alley behind his house in the nearly 24 years he has lived there.
“The alleys are completely gone. You can’t even move your car or anything. It’s just awful,”Wood said. “In my garage there is almost a half a foot of mud.”
Wood said the swift water undercut many of the potholes in the alley between South Park Street and Edgington Lane that have been patched many times over the years.
“I don’t know how the city is going to deal with this. It is going to be hard to get a car up here now,” he added.
In Belmont County, firefighters and other agencies responded to reports of basements being flooded and roads being covered with water from creeks and streams overflowing their banks.
In Shadyside, Mayor Robert Newhart said “too much rain” overwhelmed the village’s sanitary and storm sewer lines.
Daisy Run in the village stayed in its banks except for the area near the trailer court.
However, no mobile homes were flooded. A large tree, estimated by Newhart to be about 40 feet tall, did fall across the stream.
In Martins Ferry, City Service Director Chris Cleary said there were a few reports of water in basements, and a sewer line backed up in the area of Brittenstein Lane and Virginia Street because of the amount of stormwater that poured into it.
“There were a few trees down, but overall we did OK, relatively speaking,” Cleary said. “The First Street area was flooded pretty good. We’re out today trying to repair what we can and trying to clean up.”
During the height of flooding, Pipe Creek Road was closed in Belmont County. Harrison County had flooding on Ohio 151 between Bowerston and Scio and on McFadden Road.
In Monroe County, officials said there was no damage from the heavy rain.
Shelley Hanson, Robert A. DeFrank, Jennifer Compston-Strough and Janell Hunter contributed to this report.
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