On Wednesday morning, as people awoke to a newspaper story about the 20th anniversary of the New Boston 1997 flood, alarms were going on in all parts of Scioto County where two lines of storms left devastation and, yes, flooding.
Kim Carver, executive director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said the National Weather Service began issuing alerts at 2:30 a.m., for the first line of storms that came through the area. The lines of severe storms were approximately 2-3 hours each. The total number of alerts issued by the NWS and the EMA was around 50.
“Very heavy rainfall prompted flash flooding in multiple areas of the county,” Carver said. “Travel definitely was impacted as evidenced by the schools shutting down. Early on this (Wednesday) morning, we had significant travel problems with the creeks out of their banks and there was urban flooding. Water was pounding very bad.”
At the height of the storms came that dreaded “T” word.
“We had a tornado warning on the second line of storms that came through and there were several offices, businesses and locations that actually sought safe tornado shelter areas,” Carver said.
Daily Times publisher Hope Comer said Shortly after 8 a.m., the Portsmouth sirens were blaring a tornado warning. Heavy rain and strong winds tore through Scioto County coming from the west. Daily Times staff were traveling west bound on Ohio 52 when the hail hit making driving hazardous.
“We had some flooding of our Streets Department office up here,” Bill Beaumont of the Portsmouth City Service Department said. “We’re going to have the sewer crew come up and pump out the drain, after they get Shawnee State’s (University) parking lot straightened up.”
Classes were postponed until noon at SSU because of a flooded parking lot.
What we’re doing now is we’re involved in the cleanup,” Carver said. “We have flood debris and tree debris. We had multiple trees down throughout Scioto County. There are a couple of trees on a couple of houses. We had a few homes that had water up around them and several homes had water in their basements.”
“The guys have been out picking up some tree limbs,” Beaumont said. “Overnight since the first storm went through we’ve had some traffic light problems. They’re either working on them or completed by now.”
Beaumont said Sanitation stopped for a short period of time while heavy winds were blosing and lightning was flashing. He said reports were that part of Harding Avenue in Sciotoville was buckling, but after inspection it was determined the road was not buckling
“I think we fared a little better than Ironton and Ashland (Ky.) got,” Beaumont said. “I guess they got nailed pretty heavy. We got pretty lucky here.”
“Cleanup is going to continue today and I know that we did have some minor residential flooding and we have some power outages,” Carver said. “Approximately 1,200 people at the height of the storm were without electric, but if you look at the history of this storm system west of us, I think we fared pretty well because we had multiple tornadoes touch down with this line that moved across the midwest. There were fatalities recorded in these storms, so I think all in all we fared a lot better than some other people.”
Carver said a flood advisory was continuing into Wednesday afternoon because it would take a while for some roads to drain, leaving some roads closed until drainage to occur.
Allen Blair of the Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 said damaged varied depending on the county. Blair said, for the most part, downed trees and high water seemed to be the biggest problem overall.
“Our biggest issue in Greenup County is Kentucky 784 (Schultz Road) between South Shore and the AA Highway is closed. Water has eroded the pavement from around the culverts at the 31 mile marker,” Blair said. “Folks are going to have to detour until we get that repaired.”
Blair said the detour 3308, Kentucky 7 AA (Kentucky 10) to circle around the closed road. He said the road could be closed through the end of the week.
“The only other issue in Greenup County would be the backwater,” Blair said. “Once all of the water drains down to the Little Sandy and the Tygart Creek Valley, we’ll see what happens then.”
For New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton, it was de ja vu. The storm water tube was again clogged just as it was during the flood of 1997. Water covered the park and the Little League field as well. He also had three trees down on Gallia Street.
“The ground gets so wet it brings the trees down,” Hamilton said.
Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said his deputies did not encounter as much damage as the intensity of the storm appeared would be the case.
“We didn’t have too many problems,” Donini said. “We had some water that was running over the roads, especially where the creeks are, but from my knowledge we haven’t really run into anything major. It could have been a lot worse. It’s not like we had to go out and rescue people.”
Scioto County Engineer Darren LeBrun could not be reached for the status of Scioto County roads, however Donini said Dry Run was covered with water.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.