By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
MCDOWELL COUNTY, WV – Heavy rains hit the area yesterday leading to flooding across McDowell County, signaling the McDowell County Commission to declare a State of Emergency.
Panther, Berwind, Bradshaw, Anawalt, and Coalwood areas were some of the first reporting water breaking over stream banks.
River Road in War and Berwind Mountain Road were two of the first reported road closures while Department of Highways and local Fire Departments scattered across the area.
PF 821 – George’s Fork, Panther; County Route 503 – Betsy Branch Rd., Garland; 83/22 Wolfpen Hollow; HA 959 – Honey Bee Branch Road in Bradshaw; US Route 52 in Welch at Coney Island; Griffith Street in Maybeury were some of the roads closed yesterday.
The underpass on Rt. 16, leading out of downtown Welch towards Welch Community Hospital began to fill shortly after the river crested over the flood wall.
City of Welch crews responded to both underpasses, the other at Coney Island. Norfolk-Southern came to assistance, opening up access across the tracks beside Southern Highlands for stranded motorists on each side of the underpass.
Back in town, crews were forced to wait until the river sank beneath the flood wall again. Afterwards, pumps were able to drain the water and City employees were on standby for cleaning and debris removal.
Per the directive from Governor Jim Justice, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) remains at partial activation status.
Over the next 24 hours, the SEOC will continue to monitor flooded areas and maintain contact with local jurisdictions should any new hazards arise.
Agencies coordinating emergency response within the SEOC include Office of the Governor, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), Intelligence/Fusion Center, National Guard and Division of Highways (DOH), along with the state chapter of the Red Cross, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), and the National Weather Service.
While the storm seems to have passed, local and State officials encourage residents to stay aware of any changes in weather.