Area mops up

The heavy rains may be over for now, but the effects will be felt in the area a while longer.

Wednesday evening’s storm resulted in fallen trees, power outages, flash flooding and a house fire, all of which residents and workers were dealing with on Thursday. In some parts of Washington and Morgan counties, it could be Saturday before electricity is restored, according to AEP Ohio.

Fearing Township resident Eric Robinson came home Wednesday evening to find firefighters battling a blaze at his family’s home at 140 Stanleyville Road. The Fearing Township Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene, but their response was slowed by high water, fire Chief Jeff Lauer said.

“Our firehouse was flash-flooded, so the guys couldn’t get to the trucks,” he said.

The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate the fire’s cause as a matter of procedure, but Lauer said there was nothing suspicious about it.

“Pine tree was (blown) over by the storm, took down the entry line,” he said.

Three-quarters of the house’s roof was consumed by the fire, and the interior suffered smoke and water damage, Lauer said.

Robinson and his family, who were not home at the time, were counting their blessings Thursday.

“God protected our family,” Robinson said.

“And He’ll graciously lead us through the next step,” his wife, Vicky, added.

Despite the delay caused by the water, the Robinsons were grateful to the firefighters from Fearing, as well as Devola and Salem, who provided mutual aid.

“Their quick response is what allowed us to save what we’re going to save,” Eric Robinson said.

The water that hit the fire department came after heavy rain fell on Duck Creek, whose levels had been receding prior to Wednesday’s storm, according to the National Weather Service.

“We had about two inches or a little more in about 20 minutes to a half hour,” said Calvin Becker, Washington County highway superintendent and a resident of the Stanleyville area.

A flash flood watch was in effect for Duck Creek until 8:45 p.m. Thursday.

Becker said the entire county felt the effects of the storm, but the most damage was done in a line stretching from Beverly to Grandview Township.

More than 4,000 customers of AEP Ohio and the Washington Electric Cooperative in Washington County were left without power by the storm. Nearly half of AEP’s customers in Morgan County lost electricity Wednesday evening.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,200 Washington Electric Co-op customers were still without power, most of them in the Dart area, where work was still being done on a substation. Jennifer Greene, director of marketing and member services for the co-op, said they were hoping to have power restored by Thursday evening.

“At least (Thursday) morning, we had some trouble with the flooding,” she said.

More than 3,600 customers of AEP Ohio in Morgan County were without power Wednesday evening, and that number was down to about 2,100 Thursday afternoon. The company estimated 90 percent restoration in that area by noon Saturday, but a spokeswoman said they were still assessing the situation.

Washington County had more than 1,400 AEP customers without electricity at one point. That number stood at a little more than 900 Thursday afternoon, with midnight Saturday the estimate for most restoration.

Wednesday’s rains had some county road crews out until early Thursday morning, and they were back on the job by 7 a.m., cutting up downed trees, repairing minor slips and clearing roads.

“All roads are open and passable except for (Cats Creek Road). that’s one lane,” Becker said.

A large amount of water in the creek that is the Lowell-area road’s namesake led to a slip that has resulted in one lane being blocked. Workers will do core-boring next week to help determine the best method for repairing the slip, Becker said. He does not expect the situation to deteriorate further in the meantime.

“It’s about as big as it’s going to get,” he said.

There is still some debris along county roads, and Becker said the rest of that should be cleaned up next week, although crews may first address some paving projects in the early part of the week while the weather remains dry.

The City of Marietta’s dock from Indian Acres broke loose and was carried down the Ohio River until it struck the middle pier of the Historic Harmar Bridge, said Chuck Swaney, with the nonprofit Historic Harmar Bridge Co. City workers wrapped pieces of the dock around the pier and tied it off, he said.

The bridge didn’t sustain any damage, Swaney said, adding that although the bridge has been damaged by flooding before, the original piers remain.

“Those have survived every flood and never been replaced,” he said.

The most recent rains also caused the Ohio River to crest just below 27 feet Thursday evening. There’s only a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms Friday and Saturday, and the river is expected to recede.

But it won’t be low enough to make conditions favorable for the annual Riverfront Roar powerboat races scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Because of that, organizers canceled the races, but concerts, a 5K, children’s activities, fireworks and a car show planned for the weekend are still happening. Some entertainment offerings have been expanded, with musical entertainment on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

Some streets will still be closed starting at noon today to accommodate food vendors and the Kids Zone, along with Sunday’s Pioneer Corvette Club Car Show. Closed will be Front Street from Butler to Greene, Greene Street from Third to Front and Second Street from Butler to Greene.

An additional portion of Front Street, from the post office to Butler Street, will be closed at 5 p.m. for a Columbus Zoo show featuring live animals that starts at 6.

At least three powerboats will be on display during the downtown Merchants and Artist Walk tonight.

  • More, Page A5: W.Va. areas recover from storms.