LCC declares state of emergency

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

Too much rain, too little time.

The Lawrence County Commission Thursday declared a state of emergency in Lawrence County, just hours after heavy rains sent creeks and streams out of banks and created the latest round of flash flooding.

Don Mootz, director of

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Lawrence County Emergency Services, said the while the South Point area bore the brunt of the storm, reports of problems were scattered throughout the county.

"We've got flooding on County Road 58, Rankins Creek, County Road 15," Mootz told commissioners Thursday. "Right now it is the smaller ones (streams) that are out of banks. There is flooding on State Route 755 at the 9 and 10 mile markers, Greasy Creek, McKinney Creek."

Mootz said by 2 p.m. Thursday, his employees had gotten 22 phone calls pertaining to flooding. His office is investigating reports that five Lawrence County houses had been completely destroyed and reports of heavy damage to three other homes. He said personnel were visiting the affected areas to determine the actual damage to these properties.

Mootz said he had gotten reports of some mobile homes in the vicinity of County Road 15 that had been washed off their foundations, as well as reports that flood waters had swept away people's gas heating tanks.

Along McKinney Creek Road, at least two families worked Thursday to get the water out of their house after the drainage ditch along their road overflowed. Residents in that area said they have repeatedly asked the Lawrence County Engineer's Office to clean out the ditch so it would not overflow into their yards but so far nothing has been done.

"It's so bad we're just fed up with it," Windsor Township firefighter Tyler Hamlin said. He said his great aunt and uncle, Mary and Ralph Hamlin, are among those in his neighborhood with flood water damage to their house. Hamlin said his driveway was washed away and all along McKinney Creek it is the same story: Property damage due to clogged ditches that can't hold any water.

Lawrence County Engineer's Office Road Supervisor Don Lambert clogged ditches are an on-going problem for his crews, in part because of the terrain and the type of soil common in Lawrence County, and because of recent housing developments in some areas.

Lambert said his crews spent Thursday repairing a slip on Jack Jones Hill at Athalia as well as making others repairs due to flash flooding.

"It's been a mess, I'll tell you," Lambert said.

George and Edith Wilson, who live along Township Road 138, just off Lick Creek Road in Perry Township, watched the water come up and go down - again. The Wilsons were trapped in their house by flood waters this past summer and now, they're trapped again:

The creeks in that area are over their banks and their part on Township Road 138 is flooded.

"We have water up under our house. The entire road is under water. It was nearly over the fence today," Edith Wilson said. "We've got some fence wiped out up where the garden is. We're hoping the rest doesn't come down."

Ray Young, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., said the agency's rain gauge at Rankin's Creek recorded 2.01 inches of rain Thursday morning.

"The problem was that at this time of year, the leaves are off the trees and the ground just can't hold that much water," Young said. "If it had happened in the summertime it (the storm) would probably not have caused the problems that it did."