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Rain causes road closures, mudslides in Kanawha Valley

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Minor flooding was reported around the Kanawha Valley on Wednesday as emergency responders dealt with mudslides, road closures and a water rescue in western Kanawha County.

The National Weather Service had issued flood warnings for Fayette, Greenbrier, Monroe, Raleigh and Summers counties until noon, while state highways officials reported road closures due to high water in Morgan, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Raleigh and Randolph counties.

Heavy rain continued throughout the night Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, swelling the banks of small streams and threatening floods.

Kanawha County Deputy Emergency Services Director C.W. Sigman reported no roads closed by high water Wednesday morning, although he said there were culverts backed up in several parts of the county. One blocked culvert along Midnight Drive near Chesapeake sent water cascading in a torrent down the road, threatening about four homes farther downstream with flooding.

"You step off my front steps, and the water is up to your knees," said Roy Wehrle, whose mobile home was one of those threatened by the culvert. Wehrle said contractors did some sewer line work along the road more than a year ago, and the community has had problems with flooding ever since.

David Howell, chairman of the Chelyan Public Service District, said contractors working on the sewer line may have crushed or blocked the culvert that is supposed to carry water from a small creek underneath Midnight Drive to adjacent Fields Creek. Crews for the PSD were digging with a small orange backhoe on Wednesday to try to unclog the plugged-up culvert.

Barb Falke talked to her friend from the porch of her boyfriend's mobile home on Midnight Drive in the Winifrede area, near Chesapeake. The ground around the home's porch was covered with water.

Along Ferrell Road near Tornado, firefighters pulled a truck trapped by high water at about 4:45 p.m. A driver and two passengers tried to navigate through the water, which came up to the truck's doors, according to Metro 911 dispatchers.

Emergency officials alerted Metro 911 about high water in that area hours earlier. Volunteer firefighters from Tornado and Lakewood safely rescued the three people without injury.

The Court Street underpass near Green's Feed and Seed in Charleston was also closed by high water Wednesday morning.

In Fayette County, officials had been preparing Wednesday in case Paint Creek flooded in the Pax area. High water got onto roadways in the area, but by midday did not appear to pose a great threat, county 911 dispatchers said.

Emergency dispatchers in Putnam and Roane counties reported no problems with flooding.

But state highways officials said some roads around the state were blocked for at least a while on Wednesday, including one road in Kanawha County.

State Division of Highways spokeswoman Carrie Bly said that at one time as many as 11 roads were cut by high water around the state.

Roads that had closed by high water included Johnson Mill and Power House Road in Morgan County, Steven Hole Road and River Road in Pocahontas County, Tilden Road in Raleigh County and Back Road, Ferguson Road and Dry Run Road in Randolph County.

A mudslide also closed Rockcrest Drive near South Charleston at about 1 p.m., and another slide closed Edens Fork Road off Interstate 77 early Wednesday, but 911 dispatchers said the road reopened later in the morning.

Several Boone County Schools, including Sherman High School and Whitesville Elementary School, were released early on Wednesday as heavy rains caused high water in the Big Coal River area.

Students were released early as a precautionary measure and school is expected to be back in regular session Thursday, according to the county's transportation director.

Staff writers Travis Crum and Mackenzie Mays contributed. Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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