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Rising rivers a worry for Mid-Ohio Valley

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Wayne Towner As temperatures rose this week, the ice covering the Little Kanawha River started to break up Tuesday, creating ice jams like this one along the river in the Happy Valley area.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Wayne Towner
As temperatures rose this week, the ice covering the Little Kanawha River started to break up Tuesday, creating ice jams like this one along the river in the Happy Valley area.

From staff reports

Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – With rain in the forecast and slightly higher temperatures resulting in the breaking up of the frozen river in the Parkersburg area, officials are keeping an eye on the situation.

A flood watch was issued by the National Weather Service in Charleston beginning 8 p.m. Tuesday and running through noon today for the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“We’ll be monitoring the river levels all through the night,” Wood County Emergency Management Director Ed Hupp said Tuesday afternoon.

The water level is forecast to peak below flood stage on the Little Kanawha River, he said.

In addition to water levels, Hupp said there can sometimes be a problem caused by ice jams as the ice layer on a river breaks up and is carried downstream.

Some jamming appeared to be starting in the Happy Valley area of Wood County Tuesday afternoon, a common occurrence because of the Interstate 77 bridge and the curve of the Little Kanawha River at that point.

Hupp said he also was receiving reports of ice on the Little Kanawha River in the Wilderness Valley area farther upstream from Happy Valley.

At least one homeowner in Happy Valley was concerned with the ice flow Tuesday on the Little Kanawha River.

“This is a lot more serious than it appears,” said R.C. “Heck” Heckert.

The ice flow was about 14-miles long and started flowing Tuesday morning until it stopped short of the I-77 bridge, Heckert said. The river flows around 2 mph and it looked like a glacier coming down the river, he said.

“You could actually see slivers of ice come up on the beach,” Heckert said.

The flow was damaging docks on the river and could threaten other property when it flows up the banks, including residences, Heckert, who owns Broadway Marina, said.

Nothing will stop it, Heckert said. He’s also concerned what the impact would be if the river level rises.

“There’s no fix to it,” Heckert said. “Mother Nature takes its course.”

Vienna city officials were concerned about the possibility of ice jams along Pond Run causing flooding, said public works director Craig Metz.

“The frost line is currently 28 inches deep in Vienna,” Metz said. “All of this rain is just going to run right off and into Pond Run,” he said Tuesday…

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