Parkersburg councilman’s kayak flips in flooded creek

Photo by Evan Bevins Parkersburg City Councilman Eric Barber, right, is pulled from Worthington Creek Wednesday afternoon by Waverly volunteer firefighters, from left, Chuckie Hicks, Wesley Hall, Capt. Darrell Gates, Mike Foster and Anthony Gaskins.

PARKERSBURG — A city councilman found himself stuck in a tree Wednesday after going kayaking with a friend in the flood-swollen waters of Worthington Creek.

Councilman Eric Barber said he was not certain he could make it to the shore after he pulled himself out of his kayak after it hit a tree, flipped and started to fill with water. Members of the Waverly Volunteer Fire Department pulled him to the bank with a rope attached to a tractor — but not without having a little fun at his expense.

“Right before they started pulling, one of them looked at me and said, ‘Are you a Republican or Democrat?'” Barber said.

The freshman councilman was embarrassed but trying to take the turn of events good-naturedly Wednesday afternoon.

“It was very stupid, obviously, to go kayaking in those conditions,” Barber said. “We should have let that (water) come down a little bit.”

Photo by Evan Bevins From left, Waverly volunteer firefighters Anthony Gaskins, Wesley Hall and Mike Foster; Parkersburg City Councilman Eric Barber; Waverly firefighter Chuckie Hicks and Capt. Darrell Gates; Barber’s friend Joseph Leisure; and Waverly Lt. Terry Hefner walk through high water after firefighters pulled Barber out of Worthington Creek, where he was sitting in a tree after his kayak flipped Wednesday afternoon.

Barber and his friend, Joseph Leisure, were kayaking along the creek, which had overflowed its banks after heavy rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, heading toward Corning Park off Staunton Avenue. As they moved through the creek near the intersection of Old St. Marys Pike and Ashby Ridge Road, Barber’s boat hit the tree and rolled, Leisure said.

Barber said he wasn’t far from the shore but was concerned the current would move him toward a submerged branch that he could have gotten hung up on. He said he used his phone, which had remained dry, to call 911 and told them he needed help but was not in any danger.

It took Waverly firefighters a while to reach the scene because of water that had flooded a portion of Core Road. Once they arrived, it took about 20 minutes to get Barber pulled out, Waverly Lt. Terry Hefner said.

Neighbor Kevin Siers, a former Parkersburg firefighter, provided the tractor to which firefighters anchored the rope.