Roane high waters recede

SPENCER – High water in Roane County caused by Thursday’s heavy rains had receded by Friday afternoon and cleanup efforts were underway, officials said.

American Red Cross volunteers were working in Roane County on Thursday and Friday to help those affected by the water.

An emergency shelter was opened Thursday at the Roane County Armory, at 207 East Main St. in Spencer, to help residents impacted by the flood. Red Cross volunteers and staff were distributing cleanup kits and shovels to help with cleanup efforts, while assessing the damage in the area.

As of Friday afternoon, seven residents had stayed in the shelter, 702 meals had been served, more than 600 bottles of water had been distributed and 350 snacks had been served to residents, responders and others, Red Cross officials said.

Four people were still sheltering at the armory on Friday, which was scheduled to remain open through Friday night. Officials were planning to assess the situation today to see if it needed to continue operating, the Red Cross said.

Melissa Gilbert, 911/Office of Emergency Services director for Roane County, said recovery efforts were underway on Friday afternoon. About 110 homes were affected by high water in Spencer, Gilbert said, and information was still coming in from other sections of Roane County, including Newton and Walton.

Residents were working Friday to remove debris from their homes and volunteer groups were assisting in that process, Gilbert said. Flood-damaged items were to be placed near the curb for pick-up, she said.

Because of the severity of the flooding on Thursday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a State of Emergency in Roane County after two waves of heavy rain caused flash flooding. Members of the West Virginia National Guard were called up to provide assistance to local officials.

Tomblin visited Roane County on Friday, meeting with local representatives and county emergency services leaders.

“I’m thankful no one was seriously injured and appreciate the hard work of the swift water rescue teams who performed nine rescues at the height of the storm,” Tomblin said. “In 100 years, this area has not experienced damage that we’re seeing today: one lane of busy Route 119 has been washed away; at least 100 homes were flooded; and the amount of debris left behind is astounding. In surveying the damage, and listening to flood victims, the historic nature of this flood is evident. I want to assure residents that local, county and state resources are working in a coordinated effort to serve the needs of the community,” he said Friday afternoon.

Tomblin said Division of Highways crews were working to reopen roads and repair slips, including on West Virginia 119. State personnel from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health and Human Resources, State Conservation Agency and State Police were continuing to work in the area and assess damages.

The Wirt County Office of Emergency Services will be taking a convoy of volunteers today to Roane County to assist in flood cleanup efforts, Wirt OES Director Bo Wriston said Friday.

Volunteers can meet at 9 a.m. today at the Elizabeth/Wirt County Volunteer Fire Department for the trip to Roane County, Wriston said.

“We will meet with emergency management officials at Spencer and get assignments from there,” he said.

Volunteers should wear old clothing and boots they do not mind getting dirty, and good gloves. They are asked to bring cleaning supplies such as buckets, shovels, rakes, trash bags, bleach and other cleaning solvents, and scrub brushes.

“If you do not have any supplies to bring with you, manpower is still needed. Do bring some snacks for yourself and a couple bottles of water,” Wriston said.

On Sunday, Wriston is seeking volunteers to help with cleanup efforts in the Wells Lock Road area of Wirt County. The area saw a lot of trees damaged by the wind and rain and assistance is needed for debris cleanup, he said.

Volunteers can meet at the Elizabeth/Wirt County fire station at 9 a.m. Sunday.