Area flood cleanup begins

CLEANUP UNDER WAY — Wellsburg firefighters filled a pumper truck with water from the receding Ohio River after washing debris from the Wellsburg Wharf, which had been submerged. Many area emergency personnel and road crews have been cleaning up after this weekend’s flood. -- Warren Scott

As the Ohio River dropped several feet below flood stage near many communities Sunday, area emergency personnel and road crews were charged with cleanup efforts.

Capt. Tom R. Diserio of the Wellsburg Fire Department said the city’s volunteer firefighters spent the day pumping out about five homes and clearing debris that had been washed from the river onto streets and the Wellsburg Wharf.

“There was not as much, not like a typical flood,” Diserio said of the debris and mud left by the high waters.

Aided by other area firefighters, the department had helped many residents along Main Street to raise appliances and other belongings to higher levels before the river crested.

Among those helped was the congregation of Riverview Baptist Chapel.

“We got about 3 inches of water in our fellowship hall downstairs,” said Tony Fisher, a Sunday school teacher there, who said in addition to the firefighters, many volunteers turned out to help.

“We had a lot of volunteers Saturday and were able to get everything out,” he said.

Fisher said while many members of the church set about shampooing and sanitizing the carpet and cleaning other areas, some members attended services at Toronto’s Beginning Baptist Church, which is headed by their former pastor, the Rev. Lawrence Kimball.

Fisher said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Steve Poling, and members have taken a positive approach to the cleanup.

“We needed to do spring cleaning anyway, so we laughed about that,” he said.

John Parker, director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, confirmed several roads were affected by flooding, with some township roads washed out and heavy mud washing from hillsides onto others.

He noted cleanup efforts were continuing in Glen Robbins, a community beset by flooding during past storms.

Parker said he and other officials were assessing the damages with hopes affected areas of the county may be eligible for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The smallest damages sometimes can wipe out the budget for a smaller community,” he said.

But Parker added, “I’ve seen a lot worse. We were blessed to some extent compared to some areas. But we’re still assessing the damages.”

The National Weather Service has predicted 80 percent chance of rain for today, with a tenth to a quarter inch of precipitation possible. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of near 60 and a low around 55.