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Wise, officials briefed about flood concerns

February 24, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -As rain fell Friday evening, fears about flooding rose, but Gov. Bob Wise was calm when briefed about the situation in Berkeley County, saying it seems as if counties farther to the west could be harder hit.

A flood watch is in effect for the Eastern Panhandle, along with Washington County, Md., for the weekend.

Whether serious flooding occurs depends on how much rain falls today, and whether warmer temperatures cause the snow to melt more quickly, said Steve Allen, director of the Berkeley County Office of Emergency Services.

Allen gave a presentation Tuesday evening to Wise, Sheriff Randy Smith, County Commissioner John Wright, National Guard liaison Lt. Col. James Runyon and several others.

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The National Weather Service is predicting about an inch of rain today which could cause moderate flooding, Allen said. Areas that could be affected are communities along the Potomac River in the northern part of the county, including Sportsmen's Paradise, Honey Wood, River Bend, Pop's Place and Dam No. 4. Areas near Douglas Grove Road and Sulphur Springs Road could be affected, along with other communities along Opequon Creek, Allen said.

Allen said he plans to keep an eye on rainfall totals today. Another 2 to 4 inches of water is held within snow still on the ground, Allen said.

Flooding followed a similar snow storm in early 1996 when temperatures afterward rose into the 60s. High temperatures over the next few days are predicted to be in the 40s and 30s, according to the National Weather Service's local Web site.

"That'll be a nice slow melt," Allen said.

Should flooding occur, Allen said people will be evacuated if needed, and the area affected will be secured to prevent looting.

People in areas that could be flooded should be aware of rainfall totals, and, if necessary, head to higher ground. Flooding may not actually start until a day or several days after the rain ceases, Allen said.

Allen said he has confidence in the county's plans for such possible disasters and is hopeful the area will be relatively unscathed.

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