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Kanawha/Lincoln County officials prepare for potential flooding Tuesday

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 10:14 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - With Hurricane Ida in the mix, Emergency Management leaders are preparing for what could be in store for the Mountain State.

“I don’t think it’s one of those things (people) need to go to bed worrying to death about it. I think it’s one of those things they need to pay attention to,” said C.W. Sigman, emergency management director and fire coordinator for Kanawha County.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Kanawha County from 2 p.m. Tuesday to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Sigman said he’s more concerned about the eastern parts of the county, including Clendenin.

Sigman said he anticipates the Elk River to reach about 17 feet which is the “action stage,” the stage right before hitting flood stage.

“It’s not forecast currently to cause us any serious problems but again it’s close enough that we need to pay attention to it in case a thunderstorm parks up there and dumps lots and lots of rain. Then we need to start doing something.”

Sigman said the county has made contact with local fire departments, including Clendenin, and some mayors to ensure everyone is prepared.

The Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department has two rescue boats and work closely with Frame Volunteer Fire Department and Pinch Volunteer Fire Department, who also have rescue boats, to cover the Elk River.

“Our boats are always in service. We’re always prepared because we have responsibility for the river, basically from Pinch, almost to the Braxton County line,” said Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Steven Samples. “Clay County does have a boat but we assist them, we do automatic aid with Pinch if they have a call, so we go out together.”

Samples said Clendenin VFD just took their boat out this past weekend to complete a rescue drill and they practice rescuing at least once a month, sometimes once a week.

“Seventeen feet is what we would consider action stage, where we got to get ready to take some kind of action. Nineteen feet is flood stage, so anything above 19 feet is when we potentially start to have problems which may mean it could be in basements to start with,” Samples said. “Then, from 19 feet up it becomes more of a problem.”

Samples said during the March floods that hit Clendenin, the river crest was 23 feet, which caused some issues with water blocking roadways.

“Seventeen feet, 16 feet, it doesn’t really concern us as much,” Samples told WSAZ. “I mean, it is a concern but not a life-threatening concern at that level.”

Sigman said everyone who feels they could be in a flood-prone area should ensure they have gas for their generators and their generators are outside. They should also have food and other things to sustain themselves for a long period of time.

“If you live in an area that floods frequently or you get stranded, be prepared to stick it out for a little bit of time,” Sigman told WSAZ. “Usually if the water comes up fast, it goes down fast normally, but be prepared to stick it out.”

Lincoln County already saw some flooding come their way on Monday.

Lincoln County saw some high waters Monday afternoon.
Lincoln County saw some high waters Monday afternoon.(WSAZ)

Lincoln County’s Office of Emergency Services Director Allen Holder said they’ve made contact with local fire departments to ensure their equipment is checked and also had a weather briefing with other emergency services directors to discuss potential problems that could come if areas begin to flood.

Lincoln County has three different river systems that go through the county: Mud River, Elk River and Guyandotte River.

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