West Virginia Flooding

Published July 11, 2016

The Huntington District’s Water Management Team supported the District’s response to the significant precipitation event which stretched from North of Columbus across Central West Virginia and resulted in historic flooding.

The precipitation ranged from 3-9 inches across West Virginia. Camden on the Gauley, and Webster Springs experienced the highest stages ever recorded. The point precipitation that occurred at White Sulphur Springs was greater than the 1000 year event. Of significance, Summersville and Sutton Dams operations resulted in reductions of 12 feet at Belva, 10 feet at Kanawha Falls, 8 feet in Charleston, 4 feet at Frametown, 2 feet at Clay, and 1.5 feet at Webster Springs. The flooding has caused severe damage and destruction to homes and businesses across the state and stranded multiple individuals, requiring evacuations and rescues. To date, 24 fatalities were caused by the storms; a Presidential Disaster Declaration was initially issued for 3 counties and then an additional 7 were added.

Summersville, Sutton, Burnsville and Bluestone projects held water to reduce impacts along the river system affecting Charleston, WV. Navigation Projects on the Kanawha River (Marmet, London and Winfield) experienced debris and high water that reduced or stopped navigation temporarily. Campgrounds at Sutton and Summersville were evacuated and impacted by rising waters. Recovery estimates will be developed as the water levels drop.

Timely project operation reduced flooding impacts in Charleston, WV by a minimum of 8 feet. WVFEMA is activated and setting up a Joint Field Office in Charleston, WV. USACE personnel are working to assist directly with FEMA under Regional Activation. The Huntington District Emergency Operation Center was activated and is operating on 10 hour shifts 7 days/week. To date, no direct FEMA missions have been assigned to the District. The District Crisis Management Team met for situational awareness and to prepare for potential Mission Assignments/taskers from FEMA.

Preliminary flood damage reduction estimates for the 2016 WV flood event in the Kanawha River Basin are as follows:
-Bluestone: $4M
-Summersville: $128M

-Sutton: $47M

Summersville crested at 1693.45 feet, the second highest pool and Sutton crested at 949.3 feet, the seventh highest pool. At Summersville, the Battle Run Campground was nearly full with many campsite occupants gone for the day or unable to be contacted. Mr. Toby Wood, Resource Manager, Summersville Lake and his team evacuated over 90 guests from the campground as the water level swiftly rose. They utilized tow trucks and roll-backs to move approximately 5 camping units while other visitors and campers moved several more campers to higher ground minimizing the damage and potential debris. Mr. Wood also coordinated efforts to retrieve several large propane tanks that were washed into the lake from upstream flooding.

Approximately 300 boats were moored at the marina were safe with staff manning the docks adjusting anchors. The main dock poles that hold the facility in place had been overtopped so only the cables and anchors are holding them in place.

It will take time to get parking & launch facilities cleaned off and safe for use, restore electric for lighting, clean bathrooms and re-open sewage plants, etc. Drift containment crews are working on the lake surface to collect material spread out over 60 acres.