WEIRTON Flooding and power outages caused problems for Kings Creek residents Wednesday, forcing several families to leave their homes, though authorities acknowledge it could have been much worse.
Heavy rains overnight Wednesday and into the morning sent the creek over its banks, surrounding low-lying buildings and forcing authorities to close streets in the vicinity of Kings Creek chapel. Several homes were evacuated.
The National Weather Service reported radar estimated rainfall for a 24-hour period in the Weirton area totaled 4.8 inches.
RISING WATERS — Kings Creek residents Don Graham, left, and Mike Heath kept an eye on rising creek water Wednesday from Doak’s Bridge. Heath, who’s lived there since 1982, said when the water level reaches the bridge he knows it’s time to evacuate. - Linda Harris
"I'm going to tell you 25-30 homes were affected, but I don't know how many people that would be," Hancock County Emergency Management Director John Paul Jones said. "When we got down there, we started counting houses surrounded by water or people mucking water out of garages."
A second round of thunderstorms Wednesday evening caused scattered power outages but no flooding, he said. He said some of the affected residents took shelter at the Millsop Community Center.
"By the time the second wave of storms came through around 5:30 or so, the creek actually had had a chance to recede some," Jones said. "So even when it came through ... it wasn't enough to make water come out of its banks. But with that other storm came power outages. ... I think at one point, 1,800 homes in Hancock County were without power."
Jones said the flooding fell short of 2004 levels, "when we had 5 or 6 feet of water coming through."
"Not that 2 feet of floodwater wasn't bad, it was," he said. "But the flooding didn't affect nearly as many houses as it did in the past. It was bad for the people (who had water in their homes) but it could have been a heck of a lot worse than it was."
Residents like Mike Heath said they'd seen worse, though they kept a wary eye on water levels throughout the day.
Heath, who has lived in Kings Creek since 1982, said he'd gone out to breakfast Wednesday morning and by the time he got back, the creek had spilled over its banks and the fast-moving floodwaters were uprooting trees and carrying debris.
"The big one was 2004, the water came over the top of this bridge," said Heath, who watched the flooding from Doak's Bridge. "I did have to evacuate that time. ... If it gets anywhere near the bridge, I'm gone."
Delores Heflin and her husband, Bernard, stood watch from their front yard on Patricia Drive. She said in the 45 years they'd lived there "we only got water one time ourselves."
"I'd thought the creek was receding," her husband said, adding his most pressing concern was that the flooding would cause a sewage backup. "Evidently, they must have more water going into the headwater up in Pennsylvania and that's making it rise."
Dave Robinson said he's lived in Kings Creek since the late 1960s, and "this is nothing here, I've seen it (a lot higher)."
"It would take a lot before I'd leave," agreed Mike Wagoner, also of Patricia Drive.
Joe Shockow of Creekside Estates said authorities evacuated the occupants of one mobile home there after the fast-moving water got too close to them.
"This was all covered this morning," he added. "I've been here 26 years. This is the second time I've seen it this close since I lived here."
Jones, meanwhile, said crews will be out today to try to remove trees and debris that wedged against some of the bridges "so we can get it out of the creek."
He said there also were problems in Newell, along state Route 8 north of New Manchester as well as Middle Run Road near Chester, "but Kings Creek took the brunt of it."