2/22/2018 10:46:00 AM Flooding impacts local area;
but is the worst yet to come?
Jackson city firefighter Jeff Young (standing) helps guide a rowboat with Jackson residents Ethel Queen and Jimmy Walker who were rescued Thursday after flood waters threatened their Central Avenue homes on the city’s north side. Flood waters did not actually get into their homes on Thursday, but the decision was made to evacuate them as a precaution. (Photo Courtesy Of Ron Queen)
This is a view from the bridge over McDowell’s Run at Jackson’s Manpower Park Thursday morning. As can be surmised from this photo, the entire park was inaccessible due to the heavy flooding in the area in recent days. At the time of this photo, it was also noticeable that the waters from McDowell’s Run had made their way over the bridge at some point in the early morning hours Thursday. (Telegram Photo By Phillip Buffington)
Nervous residents, public officials and emergency-services personnel continue to keep anxious eyes on the skies and on the ground this weekend as past rainfall has resulted in flooding conditions throughout the area, including in Jackson and Vinton counties.
A Flood Warning was to have expired at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, but the National Weather Service extended it to 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Meanwhile, a Flood Watch remains in effect through 4 p.m. Sunday. The forecast calls for a chance of rain from late Thursday night through Saturday.
The Jackson County Commissioners have already declared a State of Emergency due to the flash-flooding situation. The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, engineer's office, sheriff's office, township trustees and county commissioners are monitoring and making decisions based on damage received and being mindful of the safety of the citizens and travelers in Jackson County at this time and through the coming weekend.
Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier reports there is flooding in a lot of places with high water on roadways. He advises motorists to be careful and exercise extra caution.
The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency (JCEMA) has not been notified of any homes which have been flooded, but any resident whose home has incurred flood-related damages is asked to call the JCEMA office for assistance at 740-286-5630.
As of noon Friday, there have been at least seven reports of damages filed with JCEMA by residents with water in their basements; however, no structural damages have been reported. He said there was one resident who reported that flood water reached the first floor of the residence. The hardest-hit areas appeared to be in the city of Jackson in the Chillicothe/Athens streets area and along Huron Street.
JCEMA Director Robert Czechlewski noted that high water receded later Thursday and early Friday, but he was casting a wary eye on the weekend weather forecast from the National Weather Service which called for more heavy rainfall.
"We are supposed to get three more rounds of heavy rain, two on Saturday and more early Sunday morning, up to three inches of rain," Czechlewski reported. "We will be keeping an eye on everything and taking damage reports."
The flood-prone areas in the village of Coalton and at the Wellston Villa Apartments on the north end of the city escaped residential flooding Thursday, but could be adversely affected if more heavy rains occur. Coalton Mayor Kim Milliken was monitoring the situation in Coalton and advising residents to stay alert to the potential dangers and take the necessary precautions.
Meanwhile, in Vinton County, Emergency Management Agency Director William Faught stated that his office has received no reports of residential flooding, but he also was concerned about the unfavorable weather forecast. The flooding and high water reportedly hit the hardest on the east side of the county.
"Our biggest issue right now is that our county and township roads are torn up right now," Faught told The Telegram early Friday afternoon. He was referring to the debris, gravel and tree limbs and washed-out holes left on roadways as a result of the high water. However, he said he believed that most roadways were at least passable, but that motorists should exercise caution and drive slowly.
Earlier Thursday, members of the Wellston Fire Department's Water Rescue Unit and the Jackson Fire Department rescued two residents from the flooded Central Avenue area. Also, late Thursday afternoon, the Jackson County Dog Pound was being evacuated due to high water. Citizens are asked not to come to the Dog Pound for the time being and to refer all dog-related complaints to local law enforcement agencies.
Rising water Thursday morning also forced all students to be evacuated from Westview Elementary School in Jackson. The access road to the front of the school became impassable and at about 9 a.m., and all students were bused out via the back entrance/exit road. Jackson Superintendent of Schools Phil Howard states the students were taken to the high school field house. Parents were given the option of picking them up there, or the students would be bused home at the end of the school day.
As it turned out, Jackson City Schools dismissed two hours early, as did the Wellston City Schools and Oak Hill Union Local Schools. Wellston Schools announced the Bundy Parent Academy has been rescheduled until next Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The Vinton County Local Schools were closed from the very start.
As for other closures on Thursday, the McArthur Center of the University of Rio Grande and Vinton Industries were both closed, as were the Jackson and Wellston Senior Citizens Centers. Due to the closure of Huron Street, the WIC office at 74 Huron St. was forced to close Thursday morning. Also, the Jackson City Library announced it would close at 6 p.m. Thursday due to weather issues. And the Buckeye Hills Career Center has announced that all adult evening classes for Thursday evening were canceled.
Local schools throughout Jackson and Vinton counties were closed Friday because of the flooding conditions and the high threat of more heavy rainfall. Schools closing Friday included the Jackson, Wellston, Oak Hill and Vinton County schools and the Buckeye Hills Career Center, along with Sts. Peter and Paul School, Hope Haven and Christian Life Academy schools. Also, Vinton Industries was on a one-hour delay.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 9, there was one state highway closed in Jackson County Thursday -- the portion of State Route 788 between State Route 93 and Fairgreens Road.
JCEMA has released the following updated list of Jackson County highways and roads either restricted due to flooding as of late Friday morning:
1) SR 349 between the Jackson County line and SR 160.
2) SR 233 between the Jackson County line and SR 140.
3) SR 124 between the Jackson County line and SR 160.
Also, the following Jackson County roads are CLOSED, according to information provided from the Jackson County Engineer's Office: Lloyd's Bridge Road, Keystone Furnace Road at Pattonsville Road, Savageville Road, Cozy Glen Road at the Hickory Grove Road intersection, Pyro Road, Moriah Road, and Cherry Fork Road.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation District 10, the following routes in Vinton County are impacted by high water as of 9:15 a.m. Friday:
- SR 328 between SR 93 and SR 56 (closed).
- SR 349 between Jackson County line and SR 160 (closed).
- SR 356 between US 50 and Athens County line (closed).
- US 50 between SR 671 and SR 683 (restricted).
- SR 56 between SR 93 and SR 328 (restricted).
- SR 124 between Jackson County line and SR 160 W (restricted).
- SR 160 between SR 32 and SR 324 (restricted).
- SR 160 between SR 324 and SR 349 (restricted).
- SR 278 between US 50 and Hocking County line (restricted).