HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — The forecast heading into the weekend calls for rain across parts of the Tri-State region, and although the leftover snow and ice have melted since last week’s storms, cities now face the threat of localized flooding.
In addition to clearing debris and getting power restored, city officials are actively turning their attention to mitigating the risk of flooding throughout the city.
Jay Edwards, the assistant director and inspector for the Huntington Sanitary Board, says their role as the Sanitary Board is to mitigate street flooding.
To do so, they are sweeping the city.
“We make, try to make, an annual sweep through the town, through the city, to inspect our catch basins,” Edwards says.
Those catch basins are the drains on the sides of the street. Their purpose—catch leaves, tree limbs, and other debris before they can clog the city’s rainwater runoff system.
Efforts are already underway to make sure—if Huntington receives a lot of rainfall—these pieces of the city’s infrastructure will be able to handle it.
“I have teams out today doing just cursory glances at catch basins to make sure there wasn’t any debris overtop the grate,” Edwards says.
The threat of flooding, however, can come from outside city limits as well.
“We monitor the river levels and the rain and try to look ahead and predict when we may have to put pump stations in.”Stan Wonnell, floodwall manager, Huntington Stormwater Utility
Stan Wonnell, manager of the floodwall in Huntington, says they annually test seven of the 21 floodgates in the wall—on a rotating basis—to make sure they’re operational.
“We’re watching the situation this weekend because we know that it’s forecasted to get a couple inches of rain maybe, so that’s gonna cause the river to rise and it may get to the point where we put the pump stations in service,” Wonnell says.
Even though the floodwall should keep the river at bay, local emergency medical services officials warn there is still the risk of localized flash flooding.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, we just have to react to what the water does,” says Gordon Merry, director of Cabell County Emergency Medical Services.
Merry says the best thing you can do when there is a flash flood is to stay away and out of the water, and definitely do not try to drive through it.