Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 31, 2013

Treacherous water

Woman, boy rescued as rain causes flooding across area

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Click here for video

A woman and boy being rescued from an SUV that floated under a bridge were one of the activities keeping first responders busy Wednesday as heavy rain soaked southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

The Princeton Fire Department and other responders were notified about 4:15 p.m. that a vehicle had gone into the creek along the Grant’s Supermarket parking lot near the Athens Crossroads. The SUV then floated 150 yards until it became stuck at a bridge at the intersection, firefighter Lt. Keith Gunnoe said at the scene.

“She apparently went into the water just above the entrance bridge into Grant’s Supermarket,” he said as a wrecker hauled the SUV from the water. “I’m not sure why she went into the water there. She floated approximately 150 yards down the creek at which time the bridge abutment actually caught the vehicle. When we arrived on scene the child was out of the vehicle. I’m unsure how the child got out of the vehicle. And we got into the vehicle and got her into the ambulance. She’s been taken to the hospital (Princeton Community Hospital) for evaluation.”

The identity of the woman and the boy, who Gunnoe estimated to be between 8 or 9 years old, were not available Thursday evening. The boy was also taken to PCH for evaluation.

Authorities were encouraging motorists to avoid driving into high water. Heavy rain continued to drench the area as the evening progressed.

“It’s all come at once and with the snow pack and all that is melting off,” Gunnoe said. “This flash flooding stuff is going to continue as long as this rain goes on.  We’re at the point now where we’re trying to tell motorists to stay out of the high water areas and to be careful, be safe.”

Firefighters erected High Water signs at the Bee Street and Trent Street intersections of Stafford Drive to alert drivers and advise them to stay clear of those areas. Approximately 1.27 inches of rain was recorded at approximately 6 p.m. at the Mercer County Airport, according to meteorologist Nick Fillo with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va. Less than an inch of snow is expected in the Mercer County area today, Fillo said. The heaviest snow, about two inches, is expected in Greenbrier County.

Communities along creeks and rivers watched water levels throughout the day Thursday as the rain continued to fall. Flash flood watches were called for Mercer, McDowell, Monroe, Tazewell, Buchanan, Giles and Bland counties.

“The river is not extremely high yet, but we will have the runoff of the springs that come off the mountains and up the river where the Bluestone River starts, so we are keeping an eye on the water,” said Mayor Louise Stoker of Bramwell. “We’ve been fortunate so far.”

In Matoaka, the water in a creek running through the town was staying in its banks early in the day. Operations to dredge the creek and reduce the chances of flooding are scheduled to begin next week, said Town Clerk Esther Comer. The project is being funded by the Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation.

In Buchanan County had reports of mud and rockslides, but no flooding as of  6:45 p.m., according to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office.