Management of the emergency flood response on the Monongahela National Forest is under the command of Jim Grant’s Type 2 Eastern Area Incident Management Team (IMT). The IMT assumed management responsibility Saturday, June 25. Incident objectives for the IMT include protecting National Forest employees and the public; facilitating access into and out of forest areas for campers and other forest visitors; and damage assessment and prioritized repairs.
The IMT is coordinating with local law enforcement and city/county/state agencies as needed. Preliminary facility and recreation site assessments are complete. All trails assessment and clearing of priority trails has been completed on the White Sulphur Ranger District. Roads repairs and trail clearing is in progress. As of late yesterday, assessments had been completed on approximately 33% (224 miles) of the estimated 672 miles of Forest Service roads on the Forest South Zone.
Current Damage Assessment
The South Zone (Greenbrier, Webster, Nicholas and the southern half of Pocahontas counties) was most affected by the rainfall event, with the majority of damage on the Gauley Ranger District. Several recreation sites were damaged on the Zone, which also includes the Marlinton-White Sulphur Ranger Districts. Numerous Forest Service-managed roads received varying degrees of damage, with mud and rock slides, fallen trees, flood debris, blown culverts, and washouts.
Williams River Road – Forest Service Road (FSR) 86 and campsites along the Williams River were heavily damaged. The road is impassable and will be closed indefinitely until repairs can be made. FSR 83 was also heavily damaged and will be closed indefinitely until it too can be repaired. The forest communications repeater damaged by lightning during the storm event has been repaired, and was up and running late Wednesday.
The South Zone Recreation Site Status Summary has been completed, and is available at the Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/mnf/. This summary provides the status of recreation sites and trails on the Gauley and Marlinton-White Sulphur Ranger District offices.
Activities Conducted Today The radio system at the Gauley Ranger District office was repaired this morning and is now fully operational. Damage assessments and repair activities on priority roads, communication sites and recreation areas continues. As of this afternoon, 303 miles (45%) of Forest roads had assessments complete. Bridges and culvert condition assessments are also underway. Chainsaw crews continued assessments and clearing downed trees from roads and high priority trails.
Opening access to Williams River Road for vehicle removal continues. Williams River Road gate support posts were being installed today; gates will be installed when they arrive. West Virginia State Department of Highways plans to install signs for the closure. Three flood-damaged vehicles were accessed along FSR 86 and removed today by a private wrecker service. Two vehicles in the Williams River were recovered late this afternoon.
Williams River Road (FSR 86) was severely damaged and is unsafe for vehicle travel and is closed. The closure extends from the fishing pier just east of the Highland Scenic Highway upstream to the road’s end, and from downstream of the Tea Creek Campground to the county road east of Dyer. This closure includes all Williams River camping sites downstream of Tea Creek Campground. All campsites upstream of the Highland Scenic are closed. Camp Splinter Road (FSR 83) and Cranberry River Trail are closed. Williams River Fishing Pier is also closed. More detailed information is provided on the South Zone Recreation Site Status Summary available at the Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/mnf/
Safety Concerns and/or Advisories
Numerous roads have been washed out and undercut on the downhill side and are unstable. There are mud and rock slides, fallen trees, flood debris and numerous washouts on forest and other roads. Hazard trees continue to fall across roadways. Workers are working on damaged roads, and heavy dump trucks are hauling rocks and gravel. Drivers should slow down and practice defensive driving techniques, especially during the holiday weekend.
Public travel into the Forest from the south, especially through the towns of Richwood and White Sulphur Springs, is not advised. These communities were especially hard hit by flood waters. If Forest users want to get to Tea Creek, Lake Sherwood, or Blue Bend campgrounds, please access these areas from the north.
There are 61 personnel currently assigned to the incident.
Continue damage assessment and repair activities on priority roads, culverts and bridges, communication sites, recreation areas and other infrastructure. The major focus of repair work continues to be on the Gauley Ranger District.
Installation of gates on the Williams River Road (FS 86) and FS 83 will continue tomorrow. Removal activities associated with vehicles and trailers in the Williams River will continue tomorrow. Damage assessment and clearing of high priority trails will continue on both the White Sulphur and Gauley Ranger districts.
WV Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, City of Richwood, Greenbrier County OES, WV State Department of Highways.
Weather Tonight will be partly cloudy with lows in the high-50s. Winds will be light and variable out of the west. Predicted maximum humidity is 96%. Chance of light showers is 30%; amount is expected to be .01 inches.
Friday will be partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 30% across the area; however, no significant accumulation is expected. Highs will be in the upper 70s; humidity will be around 49%. Winds will be west at 8 mph, with gusts to 18 mph.
For further information regarding flood effects and emergency response on Monongahela National Forest lands, visit the Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/mnf/ . You may also contact IMT Public Information Officer Bill Paxton at the Marlinton Ranger District office at 304-799-4334, extension 14, 573-429-5193 cell, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer opportunities are available for those wanting to assist local communities with flood relief: 1) Methodist Church located 1 block south of White Sulphur Springs City Hall has a sign “Volunteers and FEMA”; 2) Calvary Baptist Church (304-645-3797) at 113 Mountvue Dr., Lewisburg has a Volunteer Reception Center; and 3) the City of Richwood has a website: rebuildrichwood.com.