WEIRTON - Prepared for the worst, Red Cross workers set up an emergency shelter inside Weirton's Thomas E. Millsop Community Center Wednesday morning as Kings Creek rose from its banks after a steady overnight downpour.
As the day wore on, however, the coffee got cold and the cots remained empty as center employees said no one had sought refuge there by late afternoon - much to the relief of those who no doubt recalled the nightmarish day of flooding almost nine years ago when Hurricane Ivan's remnants wrought devastation on neighborhoods surrounding the creek.
But with additional thunderstorms possible overnight, officials hope this morning won't bring on a case of deja vu.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Standing water remains along Kings Creek Road in Weirton after the stream rose from its banks Wednesday.
"You just never know. ... Mother Nature's a hard one to fool," Hancock County Emergency Management Director John Paul Jones said.
Throughout Wednesday morning, those living in the affected area woke to the sight of a creek that more resembled whitewater rapids than a tranquil tributary of the Ohio River, taking to social media to post photos and videos of the rushing water. But by mid-afternoon, the cleanup process was well under way, with most roads in the county reopened and the muddy overflow slowly creeping back toward the creek banks.
Jones said no power outages were reported, though he estimated 25-30 homes saw some basement flooding.
"Things got better, unless you had water in your house. ... If we get more rain, all bets are off," Jones said.
Oakland Volunteer Fire Department members evacuated some residents of the Pleasant Valley Trailer Court along Kings Creek Road. Weirton Fire Chief Jerry Shumate said water and debris rendered several roads in the city impassable for much of the morning, including portions of Kings Creek Road, Theresa Drive, Willow Street and Martina Drive. Outside city limits, Lick Run Road also was closed for a time, Jones said.
Absent further severe weather, Jones expected all roads would be open by this morning, though he noted Kings Creek Road could remain reduced to one lane due to buckled pavement.
When conditions are ripe for flooding, Jones said, it's vital to be aware of one's surroundings, noting the amount of water that appears to cover a road often can be deceptive.
"Don't drive through high water. ... Turn around and go a different way," he said.
And don't wait too long to act when water starts to rise - call for help or leave the area as soon as possible, before flooding shuts off access for first responders, Shumate stressed.
"Once the water's up, we can't get to them," he said.
Other areas in the Ohio Valley suffered similar damage Tuesday and Wednesday, including in Tyler and Wetzel counties. Most notably, portions of sidewalks and roadways in Paden City washed away, leaving residents there to cleanup and find detours around the city.
As more storms passed through the area Wednesday night, damage in the immediate area was minimal. Dispatchers in Ohio, Marshall, Harrison, Jefferson and Belmont counties said they had been handling calls of downed powerlines and trees. However, they said those calls were typical for the type of weather the area saw Wednesday.
Those trees and downed powerlines left many in the area without power late Wednesday night. According to American Electric Power, as of 10:30 p.m., nearly 7,500 customers in Jefferson County were still without electricity, while more than 3,000 outages were reported in Ohio County.
A little more than 1,000 customers in Belmont County were without power late Wednesday. No estimations for restoration were immediately available.