Officials prepare for area flooding

Point Pleasant Register (W. Va.)

Feb. 24–OHIO VALLEY — Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

All eyes are on the Ohio River this weekend as more flooding is predicted for the area. Updated models from the National Weather Service show the crest predictions decreased slightly from what they were the day before.

On Friday evening, the crest prediction was 47.2 feet in Point Pleasant late Monday into Tuesday, down from Thursday’s prediction of 48.5 feet, also late Monday into Tuesday. The crest was at 46.4 feet earlier this week, prior to the water receding. Flood stage at Point Pleasant is 40 feet.

The latest river crest prediction at the R.C. Byrd Locks and Dam had also decreased from the previous day, landing at 52.1 feet, down from Thursday’s prediction of 53.5 feet. The most recent crest is predicted to happen late Monday into Tuesday. The crest was just under 51.45 feet earlier this week, prior to the water receding. Flood stage at R.C. Byrd is 50 feet.

In Mason County, the Mason County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will be operating its Emergency Operations Center/call center. The EOC is for non life-threatening emergencies which are related to flooding, allowing the public a phone number to call to get information on road closings and to get questions answered regarding property damage, where to find cleaning supplies, etc. The EOC helps divert those calls which are not life-threatening away from 911 dispatchers and still provide residents with timely information. That number to call is 304-675-8686. The division of homeland security and emergency management also operates a Facebook page and Twitter account for local updates.

On Friday, the Associated Press was reporting Gov. Jim Justice had directed state emergency officials and the West Virginia National Guard to prepare for potential widespread flooding. According to the governor’s office, both the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the National Guard will monitor weather and hydrology reports with Guard units staging equipment and personnel in areas with increased flooding risk.

In neighboring Meigs County, Ohio, on Friday, officials and representatives from numerous agencies gathered at the Robert E. Byer Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to prepare for the upcoming flooding predicted along the Ohio River.

As the meeting began, the river was projected to crest in Pomeroy at a level of 54.1 feet, a projection which decreased to 51.8 feet on the Friday afternoon update which took place during the meeting. While the forecasted river crest levels have been reduced by the National Weather Service, the threats of continued rains can affect the predictions, stated the Emergency Management Agency. The current estimated crest at the Belleville Locks and Dams is 44 feet, Racine Locks and Dams is 48.2 feet

While there was relief with the lower projection, it will still be a foot to two feet higher than the crest last weekend which resulted in many closed roadways and water in buildings along the river.

The EOC will be in operation during the duration of the flooding, with representatives from EMA, fire, medical and law enforcement, along with other volunteers on hand to assist with managing the situation.

A shelter (location to be announced) is planned to open sometime on Saturday for residents who are impacted by the flooding. The shelter will likely be staffed by the American Red Cross, as well as local volunteers. Transportation for those who need to evacuate will also be available. A designated phone line is being set up to handle calls related to transportation needs.

Designated phone numbers will be released Saturday for people needing assistance with sheltering, transportation, donations, and volunteers.

As the flooding approaches the area, several agencies have announced flood preparations.

Ohio University has cancelled classes for Monday, Feb. 26 in “anticipation of severe weather and potential flooding.” The Hocking River is currently projected to crest at 24.2 feet in Athens on Monday. That water level would place water on East State Street in the city.

Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH) is also preparing for “potentially serious flooding” which means roadways and medical care services may be blocked and access will be limited.

“Pleasant Valley Hospital is a provider of critical services, which is why we’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure we have the proper staff, supplies, and transportation available. For the transport of patients to PVH and our tertiary facility in Huntington, we are working closely with Mason County Emergency Management Services to watch for blocked roads and hazards. Our emergency and trauma center staff also have air medical transport services on standby,” stated Glen Washington, FACHE, CEO, in a news release.

“We encourage you to check on the frail and elderly who need may need access to medical care and medications. If you know of anyone getting cut off by water and are in need of medical care, please make arrangements to get them to the nearest hospital or call 911,” stated Washington.

Ohio Valley Publishing will provide updates as made available by EMA agencies in Meigs and Mason counties, as well as any statements made by other agencies in the area.

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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing. Sarah Hawley is managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.