The weirdest flood
Few people around today remember anything like the flash flood that struck downtown Berkeley Springs so hard on Saturday afternoon, September 1.
But, as you can see from the photos below, there are similarities with what happened 76 years ago during the St. Patrick’s Day flood of March, 1936 that devastated large sections of the region.
True, the park has flooded many times since the 1936 Flood, as has Washington Street between the inn and bank. And, Fairfax Street has seen water, as have basements throughout the town. In the last 60 years, however, flood control dams have helped to prevent a major disaster.
So, when Warm Springs Run and other streams began rising during Saturday’s torrential downpour, no one worried too much at first. But then the water kept right on rising and pouring into a wider area.
Weirdest of all was that the heavy rains only hit a limited area. At an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon, local officials were told that the storm basically hit an area four miles wide and ten miles long, right around Berkeley Springs.
If you were in Largent or Unger or Cacapon South, you might not have gotten a drop, though you couldn’t miss the darkening skies and the ominous thunder in the distance.
In the storm zone, the remnant of Hurricane Isaac dropped anywhere from three to six inches of rain in about four hours. Local people suddenly understood how flood victims from Paw Paw to New Orleans could be caught so terribly off-guard.
It all happened fast, and the water dropped as rapidly as it rose. Luckily there were no reports of anyone being seriously hurt.
This week’s Morgan Messenger is full of photos provided by readers who were in the flood area. We’re particularly indebted to Jeanne Mozier who happened to be at the Star Theater that afternoon and documented what was going on.
Everyone had nothing but praise for the efforts of Fire Chief Todd Ruppenthal and the Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Department.
Let us hope that another lifetime goes by before we see such flooding in town again. We hope that business owners and residents who suffered flood damage are able to rebound quickly.