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Elk River gets 'dangerously high'

Kenny Kemp
Robbie and Julia Elmore's Clendenin home is surrounded by the overflowing Elk River on Saturday after heavy rains caused flooding across West Virginia.
Kenny Kemp Cathy Elmore (left) said floodwater from the Elk River got dangerously high around midnight in Clendenin. Daughter-in-law Julia Elmore (right) woke up her daughter, Kyleigh, and escaped to her in-laws' nearby home as water surrounded theirs.
Kenny Kemp Heavy rain left this truck underwater on Thorofare Road in Clendenin Saturday morning. The National Weather Service saidi about 2 1/2 inches of rain fell from Friday and into Saturday, causing widespread flooding across the Mountain State.
Kenny Kemp About two and half inches of rain fell from Friday to Saturday causing high water and flooding throughout the state. Virginia Avenue in Clendenin was blocked off with high water.
Kenny Kemp Drivers encountered high water on roads throughout the Mountain State Friday and Saturday.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Clendenin resident Cathy Elmore watched the water continue to rise Friday into early Saturday. While her house appeared safe from the swift-moving Elk River, her son, daughter-in-law, mother and granddaughter less than 200 yards away weren't as lucky.

"Around midnight, it was getting dangerously high," Elmore said. "So I made a phone call and said maybe we need to get mama and the kids over here."

Half an hour later, Elmore's family was in a truck, crossing the high water separating the houses. The family had a kennel full of puppies in the truck's bed that also made the trek across the rushing water.

Roughly 2 1/2 inches of rain fell Friday and Saturday, causing high water and flooding around the state, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.

"We've been up all night," Elmore said. "We finally laid down and got a little sleep around 5 a.m."

She and her family have lived along the Elk River since the 1970s. Elmore moved into the neighboring home in 2000. They know to keep an eye on the river water rising.

"We've faced this before," Elmore said. "It's stressful. Once the water goes down, we have to fight the mud."

The Elk rose to nearly 20 feet at Clay, exceeding its flood stage of 18 feet. In Queen Shoals, the river crested below its flood stage at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Emergency responders had to rescue people from at least two vehicles after the drivers tried to make it through high water Saturday, a Kanawha County Metro 911 dispatcher said.

Vehicles were underwater on Thorofare Road in Clendenin, Ferrell Road in Tornado and elsewhere.

By late Saturday, much of the danger was subsiding in the Kanawha Valley, but a flood warning remained in effect in Barbour County.

Elmore said her son, Robbie, has a 1987 Chevrolet pick-up in his garage that he's been working on. She said she hopes the truck wasn't damaged by the floodwater.

She said the family is hopeful it doesn't rain again anytime soon.

The National Weather Service said some of the areas in West Virginia hit hardest by flooding were in Nicholas, Webster and Upshur counties.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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