by Geoff Fox
As the rain fell last week, the thought of flooding went through everyone’s mind. While Hancock didn’t have any serious flooding, the southern part of Washington County was hit with major damage from rising waters.
According to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, the Potomac River in Hancock crested sometime between Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, well below flood stage at 19.5 feet. Flood stage is 30 feet. The gauge is located at the bottom of Church Street.
Downstream at Williamsport, the river crested at 17.4 feet, which is just short of the flood stage of 23 feet. At the Shepherdstown gauge, the river crested at 17.78 feet, which caused minor flooding in that area. Flood stage is 15 feet.
A state of emergency was issued due to the severity of the flash flooding in the areas of Sharpsburg and the areas near the county line.
After reviewing initial damage, Washington County Division of Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s Office placed a travel restriction on all roadways into and out of southern Washington County.
All secondary roads, with the exception of state highways and private roads, were placed under the restrictions.
Remaining roadways have suffered measurable damage to the shoulder and travel lanes.
Large flows of water continued to flow over those roadways and officials were warning people to not enter flooded roadways.
Seven roads in the southern part of the county, as of Sunday, were still closed to all through traffic but open to local traffic. Some roads were closed to thru traffic with local traffic only as the roadway was passable and were open for a four-hour window because of churches located along them.
All roads in the “No Access Road Closure” category also have sections open to local traffic only.
Washington County officials gave seven detour routes for alternate routes to access the southern part of the county – US Route 340, Rohrersville Road, MD Route 67, Trego Road, Burnside Bridge Road, Mills Road, and Harpers Ferry Road.
While Harpers Ferry Road is listed as an alternative route, it was also one of the roads closed to all thru traffic, local traffic only.
Residents who live the areas effected by road closures were encouraged to contact their trash company to notify of current road conditions and notify UPS and FedEx if they are expecting any packages.
Residents in that area that could have concerns with their private wells and/or septic systems asked to contact the Washington County Health Department.