Updated Tuesday, June 5
Flooding in small creeks and streams in the Paw Paw area undermined roads, causing several to collapse or develop dangerous sinkholes during Sunday’s flooding. Route 9 into Paw Paw was reportedly covered in large rocks and rubble, mud and water, making it impassable. Bevans Industrial Lane near the American Legion collapsed. Other small lanes and driveways have also been washed out, especially in the area of Woodrow Church into Paw Paw. Highway crews have been working in the area since water receded enough to give them access to Paw Paw.
Paw Paw council member Betty Jo Henry said Sunday that the road conditions in the town were “unreal.” She had been unable to look at all the roads in town because access then was cut off by large holes, debris, high water and collapsed roadways. By Monday morning, most main roads into Paw Paw were open and repairs were beginning.
Residents in the area report that there was no safe access to Winchester or Cumberland from Paw Paw on Sunday due to the collapse of sections of Route 127 and flooded bridges to the west. Route 127 east of Paw Paw remains closed because sections of it have caved in.
“I’ve lived here for 13 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Henry said. “The road coming down into Paw Paw — it looks like the mountain gave way.”
The Potomac River wasn’t to blame for the flooding. It crested on Monday morning, covering parking lots at the public river access and closing the parking lot at the C&O Canal Paw Paw tunnel.
Small streams and creeks, swollen from recent relentless rains, were unable to drain quickly enough and washed out culverts, ditches and whole sections of road.
On Monday morning, crews from the West Virginia Division of Highways were starting to clear and repair the most damaged sections of the main roads, including Route 9 and Winchester Street.
Henry said the Morgan County Office of Emergency Management asked Mayor Tim Mose to open Paw Paw Town Hall on Sunday to use a response center and assist residents affected by flooding. She said town officials focused on emergency response first, and would rely on Paw Paw fire chief Steve Moreland for a damage assessment.
Water completely covered Route 9 near Paw Paw Schools on Sunday morning. Runoff from town streets poured into a pond along the roadway, then dumped into nearby homes. Henry said she didn’t know how many people had been displaced or had their homes affected by flooding in Paw Paw.