City officials nearly forced to close floodgates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Ironton built floodgates for good reason and almost had to use them Tuesday night.

Recent rain and snow nearly forced the city to close the North Second Street and Hicks Alley floodgate when the river crested at more than 16 feet higher than normal Tuesday, said Mike Pemberton, Ironton's street/flood/sanitation superintendent.

"We had our crane down there, auxiliary lighting, power. We were ready to pull the metal," he said. "We had everything set up."

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The normal river levels measure approximately 32 feet based on the city's Storms Creek gauge.

At 3 a.m. Tuesday, the levels reached 48 feet, slightly less than the 49 feet projected by the Army Corp of Engineers and did not require a closure, Pemberton said.

Even though the gate was not closed, backwater from the river has caused flooding on Lawrence Street, Hog Run Road and State Route 650 in Hanging Rock.

At least one person drove their vehicle into the water on State Route 650 but was not stranded, he said.

"All you can do is wait for the water to go down," he said. "We put up warning signs and barricades"

The river slowed considerably Monday and Pemberton said the normal variation for the river is one or two feet. This would be the first time in recent years any of the gates have been closed.

If the gate would have closed, traffic would be rerouted to U.S. 52 via McPherson Street, he said. The next gate that would have to be closed is the on the western side of Storms Creek and must be closed if the level gets to 52 feet.

Even if the county gets more rain, it will not affect the river's depth for a few days unless it is a real downpour, he said.