WEIRTON - Reports of severe thunderstorms did not prepare local residents for what followed as stormy weather raged through the area on Thursday causing flash flooding, home evacuations and damage to personal property.
Several areas in the city of Weirton, along with various places in Hancock and Brooke counties, were left flooded and severely damaged after hurricane-like wind and rains hit the Ohio Valley. Intersections throughout Weirton were closed off to traffic for several hours because of high flood waters in the Cove Road area, Pennsylvania Avenue and Kings Creek, among others.
Public Works Director John Brown said he and City Manager Gary DuFour began sizing up the damage Thursday night and into Friday morning while consulting with Brooke County Emergency Management Director Bob Fowler and Hancock County Emergency Management Director John Paul Jones to determine how best to handle the situation.
flooding on Cove Road during storm of May 12, 2011
Brown said crews were immediately called out to begin the clean up process that same night and even had to call out James White Construction, on an emergency basis, to clear some of the debris. He said crews were out early on Friday to continue clean up efforts.
"The Cove Road area was hit the hardest," said Brown. "In all my years, I have never seen water come up that high in that area."
DuFour said the West Virginia Department of Highways was dispatched to clear roadways near the intersection of Cove Road and Harmon Creek Road. He said there was extensive water damage done to the shoulder of the road and again noted an outside contractor was needed to assist the city's efforts to clean up the area.
Residents at 105 Willow St. are outraged after stormy weather on Thursday caused damage throughout the city and destroyed personal property — including a 2004 Honda Pilot and a basement full of belongings — at the Willow Street home. The flash flooding and water runoff also forced several other families to be evacuated from various locations in the city. -- Angelina Dickson
"There was an emergency shelter opened in the Millsop Community Center for the residents in the Cove Road area while clean up efforts were being conducted," he added. "All the crews who responded have done an excellent job and a big thanks must go to both Bob Fowler and John Paul Jones for all their assistance."
Damage was done throughout the entire city, said DuFour, as reports came in noting trees down on Marland Heights and Weirton Heights as well as small hill and road slides. Other locations that suffered damage and needed to be closed down at one point was the intersections of Main Street and Freedom Way as well as Main Street, County Road and Pennsylvania Avenue - causing Main Street, at one point, to be closed down at both ends.
In the Kings Creek area, Sheridan Taylor, a resident of 105 Willow Street for 39 years, said water runoff brought debris piled along both sides of North 12th Street through his yard and into his garage and basement causing a significant amount of damage.
"It's all the city's fault," he exclaimed.
Taylor said city and Hancock County officials had been notified several times there was ruffage piled along the street that needed to be cleared out since February of 2010 and did nothing. He said a number of people also began to use the area as a dump for brush, causing a major pile up.
"If something had been done when they had first been notified of the problem, this would have never happened," he said of the damage his home suffered. "None of this damage was caused by Kings Creek, but all water and debris from 12th Street."
Water marks could be seen in Taylor's garage measuring three feet high. The vehicle kept in the garage, a 2004 Honda Pilot with a mere 32,000 miles, is now a total loss, he said. Debris had to be pulled out of the vehicle and piled outside the garage and all of his family's belongings kept in the basement of the home are now displaced.
Taylor said he is grateful to have flood insurance, adding some of the damage would be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but feels the city should take responsibility as well.
While city officials were hoping not to have more flooding issues caused from rain on Friday, DuFour and Brown said crews would be ready and available to assess damage, clean up and additional evacuations over the next few days if needed.
(Dickson can be contacted at email@example.com)