Two rescued from rising waters Sunday

Local rivers and streams flooded Saturday night into Sunday as a weather system dropped several inches of rain on Morgan County and the region.

Emergency officials rescued two people from the roof of their vehicle when the car got stuck in high water in the 5500 block of River Road shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, December 16. River Road had been shut down there due to flooding, which cut off access to the Sleepy Creek bridge.

According to Deputy Chief Marshall Younker of the Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company, Morgan County 911 got a call at 9:05 a.m. for a vehicle in the water with two people inside. Younker said the truck appeared to be heading west toward Hancock Road.

Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company, Morgan County EMS, Washington County, Md. and Boat 20 were dispatched to perform a water rescue. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department was on the scene and notified responders that the people had gotten out of the pickup truck and onto the roof of the vehicle, which was becoming submerged. The occupants were two men from Pennsylvania. The driver was a 79 year old man, police said.

River Road at the Sleepy Creek bridge was impassable on Sunday morning as the creek backed up from a swollen Potomac River.
photo by Zachary Sipe

Responders requested Maryland State Police aviation for a possible aerial rescue, but the aircraft was unavailable due to weather conditions.

According to Younker, Washington County’s rescue boat arrived at 9:43 a.m. and both people were removed from the vehicle by 10 a.m. They were taken to the western edge of the water, where they were evaluated by EMS. Responders left the vehicle in place to be recovered after waters receded.

The rescue incident took place at the site of bridge construction along River Road. A new two-lane concrete bridge was expected to open to traffic by the end of the year. Highway officials said that target may change as a result of the flooding.

Rivers topped flood stage

The Cacapon River crested on Sunday, December 16 at 13 feet – four feet above flood stage. Bridges over the Cacapon River at Rockford Road and Powerhouse Road were closed by high water.

Further west, the Potomac River at Paw Paw hit 25.35 feet on Sunday, flooding the public boat access area near the town’s wastewater plant.

Warm Springs Run in Berkeley Springs rose out of its banks in the downtown park on Saturday night, but had dropped by Sunday morning.

Several roadways throughout the county were closed or covered in standing water or debris from washouts on Sunday morning. Many were the same areas hit by several flood events from May through August of this year.

A public boat ramp and river access lot in Paw Paw was under water on Sunday, December 16 as the Potomac River hit flood stage.
photo by Kate Shunney