Storm swamps some area roads

February 05, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL and AMY WALLAUERs

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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Storm swamps some area roads

Heavy rain and snow from a slow-moving winter storm that moved into the Tri-State area early Wednesday and is expected to taper off today caused creeks to jump their banks and caused numerous weather-related accidents.

High water stranded a Berkeley County man on a bridge, while in Cascade, a mobile home's foundation shifted in the mud, briefly trapping the owner inside.

Rain and drizzle will linger, and snow showers are possible throughout today as the last of the storm heads to the northeast, said Dave Thede, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.


Flood warnings will remain in effect throughout the Tri-State area through today, according to the National Weather Service.

Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer said 1.29 inches of rain fell Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the rainfall total for 1998 to 7.47 inches.

Martinsburg, W.Va., had 4.61 inches of precipitation and Chambersburg, Pa., reported a total of 1.47 inches.

The soggy weather caused a mobile home in Cascade to shift on its foundation and nearly roll over late Wednesday, trapping a woman inside.

"She couldn't get out of the house, so we had to kick in the door to get her out," said a Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Co. firefighter. He said the door jammed when the house at 14622 Pennersville Road, began to list.

The woman was not injured and went to stay with her son afterward.

A Martinsburg, W.Va., man was stranded in his truck for about an hour Thursday when he tried to cross a section of Sulphur Springs Road that was covered by about three feet of water from the Opequon Creek.

Alexander Smith, 49, was driving home from work at about 4 p.m. when, despite a "road closed" sign, he tried to drive on the stretch of the flooded road near Nadenbousch Lane and his pickup truck stalled.

"I didn't think it was that deep," Smith said while being evaluated by an ambulance crew. "I don't know why they didn't have a police officer there."

Realizing his truck was stuck, Smith rolled down the driver's side window and sat on the door as the water rose into the truck. After rising waters covered the headlights, he crawled into the pickup's bed.

Another motorist saw Smith's truck and called emergency crews, who reached Smith by boat.

Pennsylvania State Police responded to at least a dozen weather-related accidents on Wednesday, including one involving a state police cruiser.

The most serious accident occurred at 3:15 p.m. when a northbound 1994 Geo Tracker driven by Larry S. Cotton, 36, of Greencastle, Pa., skidded across the median of Interstate 81 and struck a southbound 1990 Isuzu Trooper driven by Ivan M. Onativia, 41, of Shippensburg, Pa., according to police.

Both drivers received minor injuries, police said. Cotton's passenger, Ronald Cotton, 40, of Fayetteville, Pa., was listed in satisfactory condition Thursday at Chambersburg Hospital.

No injuries were reported in a 4:05 p.m. accident in which a parked police cruiser was hit by a car on Pine Stump Road in Greene Township, Pa. Police said a car driven by Roy B. Monn Jr., 67, of Shippensburg, Pa., skidded off the road and hit the cruiser, which was parked about 15 feet off the roadway.

Officials at Waynesboro Fire Department said they received a few calls to pump out flooded basements.

High water closed or blocked several roads in the area, shutting schools and forcing residents to find alternative routes to work Thursday.

Thirteen roads in Washington County remained closed Thursday night, four roads were closed in Berkeley County, W.Va., and nine roads were closed in Jefferson County, W.Va., officials said.

The Potomac River was expected to crest at 17 to 18 feet at Harpers Ferry this afternoon. Flood stage there is 18 feet.

The Shenandoah River was expected to rise slightly out of its banks today at Millville, W.Va., with the river cresting at 15 to 16 feet.

Temperatures were expected to be in the upper 30s today with lows overnight in the low 30s, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters predicted Saturday and Sunday will be partly to mostly sunny with temperatures in the 40s and overnight lows in the mid- to upper 20s.

Staff Writers Don Aines and Richard Belisle contributed to this story.

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