LOGAN, WV (WOWK) – A major project in Logan County, WV was intended to alleviate flood damage in areas around Logan, including the community of Mt. Gay.
But this March for the first time since the multimillion dollar project was finished, some homes and businesses flooded again.
Now some are saying they thought the days of major flooding were behind them.
According to Logan County Floodplain Administrator Ray Perry, one apartment building in the area has flooded 52 times since 1973. Nearby Valley Market has flooded 28 times in 30 years.
Most people in the community have similar stories.
“We were flooded, every four years was a long time,” said Ronald Jones, who lives in the Shamrock community. “Sometimes twice in four years. It was on a real regular basis.”
His home was flooded in March. He had to move many mud soaked belongings to the curb to go out with the trash. He’s done cleaning up now. But his frustration remains.
“When I was younger I could get out there and do that,” he said about the flood aftermath. “But this March one it was hard for me to get that done. That mud gets kind of heavy. But I’d say whatever they can do to do away with it all, we’d be better for it.”
Jones and many others in the area thought that a $40 million flood mitigation project which widened the Island Creek area from 20 feet to 80 feet would put a stop to flooding. It had until March 2021.
“I was very optimistic about it at first you know,” Jones said.
Stereo Video Unlimited was one of the businesses that flooded in March. 13 News spoke with the owner Jesse Queen soon after.
“We are into this again, you know,” he said at the time. “We thought this thing was taken care of.”
As Queen watched his team clearing inches of mud from the property, he said he thought that work was a distant nightmare that they wouldn’t have to go through after the channel was widened.
“It is heartbreaking you know, knowing we have to do this and we shouldn’t have to do this,” he said.
Perry said even after the Island Creek Flood Protection Project, Stereo Video Unlimited and others are still vulnerable.
“That project has been extremely successful. It has kept these people from being flooded numerous times down to one in nine years. So that is a pretty good track record,” Perry said. When it comes to the March incident, Perry said the already high Guyandotte River didn’t have room for more water from the tributaries.
“There’s much more storage there but once the river gets to flood stage then the water starts to back up and that is what occurred,” he explained.
Perry admits there are other problems too.
Debris frequently clogs the space under at least three bridges causing the water to back up. Some of that debris is still there from the flooding in March.
“You get one or two trees hung up under a bridge then it is going to start piling up. It don’t take long for it to create its own dam for it to start backing the water back up,” Jones said.
There is construction going on by Premium Towing unrelated to the flooding. But a design characteristic included in the plan could still help down the road.
“Both of these bridges are arch bridges and they have a support right in the middle of the stream,” Perry said. “So you have two arches that come together right in the middle of the stream. They are replacing them with full span bridges. There will be nothing in the stream. So that will open that up to keep from collecting debris.”
The main issue though he says is the bridge in front of Kroger. Over time he said silt has filled the channel, causing more debris to be caught. Plus utilities like water, waste water and gas run under the bridge. The bottleneck is right where the two tributaries meet.
“If I could get something done there then I would say I really accomplished something,” Perry said, referencing the bridge by Kroger. “I’ve been through a lot of the mitigation programs and things like that but that right there is something that I would really like to accomplish. That would benefit I don’t know how many people.”