Creek flooding underway in Valley

BRIDGEPORT — Ohio Valley residents need to continue keeping an eye on rising creeks and streams and prepare for flash flooding, said a local emergency management official.

With more rain expected in the weather forecast, Becky Horne, executive administrative assistant for the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency, said the National Weather Service on Thursday issued a flood watch for creeks and streams effective until 7 a.m. Sunday.

“The ground is really saturated. … There is potential for flooding based on the current forecasts,” Horne said.

On Thursday evening, flooding already was occurring on several local roadways including on a portion of Ohio 7 near Yorkville and Tiltonsville. Many Ohio Valley residents took to social media to post photos and videos of what they were experiencing and seeing in their own cities.

Horne said the Ohio River at Wheeling is expected to crest at 35.9 feet at 3 p.m. Saturday. Flood stage in Wheeling is 36 feet. The river at Moundsville is expected to crest at 37.6 feet between 6-8 p.m. Saturday. Flood stage at Moundsville is 37 feet.

The river at Pike Island Dam is expected to crest at 35.8 feet between 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Creeks and streams are expected to crest at 7 a.m. Sunday.

“People are urged to keep an eye on creeks and streams and the river, of course. If it comes up, people need to be ready and get to higher ground. Make sure you have a plan in place in case you have to leave your residence. Take the necessities, such as cellphone chargers and medications. Have a disaster plan for your pets, too,” Horne said.

Horne said residents also need to stay away from flooded roadways and not try to drive across them.

“Flash flooding can happen without any notice,” she added. “River flooding is easier — it comes up slower and it gives people time to get personal items out of the way.”

Bridgeport Exempted Village School District employees are preparing for the rising water by removing equipment and supplies from the fieldhouse at Bill Jobko Stadium. The fieldhouse has suffered flooding in the past.

“We’ve been following the National Weather Service and it is reporting the Ohio River will crest at 36 feet, which will allow water to get into our fieldhouse,” Superintendent Zac Shutler explained. “Water usually starts getting on the football field itself at a little lower than 36 feet.”

Shutler said the students wouldn’t have class today, so the entire maintenance crew will be available to go down there and start loading stuff into trucks as a precautionary measure.

“After the waters recede, we will have everything professionally cleaned and then monitor it for mold and such,” Shutler said.

Horne said while Belmont County has its usual problem areas in terms of creek flooding, such as Pipe Creek, there could be flooding in many more areas of the county this time around, including toward some riverfront areas.

“People need to remember — don’t do anything dumb. Don’t ride through flooded roadways. Most of the flooding deaths happen in vehicles. Turn around, don’t drown,” she added.

Staff Writers Shelley Hanson and Kim North contributed to this report.