Photo courtesy WV DOT

WVDOH battles mudslides, high water March 1

CHARLESTON, WV – West Virginia Division of Highways road crews were out in force on Monday, March 1, 2021, battling mudslides, flooding and fallen trees following two days of heavy rain.

“Our people are the best in the country when it comes to incident management,” said Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Jimmy Wriston. “They’re always running to the fire. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night you call them, they answer, and they’re on it.”

About 95 roads remained closed due to flooding Monday morning, many due to high water. District 1, which includes Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Mason, and Putnam counties, had 58 roads closed on Monday.

“The issue is that most of the bigger streams have not crested so it is hard to survey the potential damage from those streams and rivers running out of their banks,” said WVDOH Operations Division Director Jake Bumgarner. “We will know more in the coming days as we keep assessing the situation and the water starts to recede.”

WVDOH District 1 Engineer Travis Knighton said District 1 road crews were addressing several major mudslides on Monday.

District 10 road crews were also working to clear mud and debris from WV 80 in McDowell County on Monday morning.

District 8 Engineer Jamie Rossi said floodwaters damaged a detour bridge on Handley Road in Pocahontas County. There was also flooding in downtown Marlinton, the Hillsboro area, and near Watoga State Park. Several culverts were damaged in the area.

District 2, which includes Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, and Wayne counties, also reported about two dozen roads closed on Monday. District 2 District Manager Scott Eplin said all the roads were closed due to high water but said road crews might discover mudslides in the area once floodwaters recede.

Eplin said waters from initial flash-flooding were receding on Monday. “Now what we’re dealing with is backwater,” he said. “The water keeps coming up.”

Although rainfall has stopped in the Mountain State, many streams and rivers continue to rise. Eplin said some streams in District 2 are not expected to crest until Monday night.

WVDOH reminds motorists not to try to drive across flooded roadways. The water is often deeper than it appears. If confronted with high water, drivers are advised to “Turn around. Don’t drown.”

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