Downpour puts sections of Mineral County underwater

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
The Rolling Acres Gospel Music Park was completely underwater Thursday evening when the New Creek area got hit with approximately 2 1/2 inches of rain in a very short time period.

MINERAL COUNTY - Isolated areas of Mineral County got hit with a lot of rain in a short period of time Thursday evening, and some residents found themselves stranded in the middle of flash flooding practically before they knew what was happening.

One person in the Halterman’s Trailer Court near Route 93 between New Creek and Scherr had to be rescued by raft, and the Rolling Acres Gospel Music Park along that same route was completely underwater.

Had COVID-19 not cancelled the annual activities at the park, this is one of the weekends it would have been packed with campers and music-lovers.

“Rolling Acres has been flooded before, but I’ve never seen it that bad,” New Creek Volunteer Fire chief Dustin Amtower told the News Tribune Friday.

Although rumors were circulating on social media Thursday evening about some evacuations in the Keyser area, Mineral County Office of Emergency Management assistant director Jessica Liller said the flooding issues seemed centered on the New Creek area and to her knowledge no one had been evacuated in Keyser.

Some residents along New Creek, however, apparently did evacuate on their own.

“I’ve never seen something like it; it was all up in the New Creek area,” Liller said, adding that U.S. Route 50 had to be shut down for about an hour and a half due to water in the roadway.

These homes along Route 93 between New Creek and Scherr were completely surrounded by water Thursday evening.

According to Tyler Metcalf, trained weather spotter with the National Weather Service, the southern part of Mineral County received 2-4 inches of rain, although one isolated spot received up to 5 inches.

Amtower said once New Creek VFD began receiving calls for flood-related issues, several calls came in rapid succession. Due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions, however, they were not able to answer them all.

“The first call was on Burgess Hollow Road and came in as a possible wall collapse,” he said. “But Burgess Hollow was completely unaccessible.”

The firefighters were able to contact the residents, however, and determined the situation was not life-threatening.

“The people were ok. They went and stayed with someone that night,” he said.

While dealing with that call, a second one came in.

“The said ‘Rolling Acres is underwater and someone is stuck,;” Amtower recalls.

When emergency crews arrived, however, the person had already gotten to safety.

“Then we got the third call about Halterman’s Trailer Court, where at least two people in a trailer were completely surrounded,” Amtower said. “That’s when we called the county’s Special Operations Team.”

Members of the Special Operations Team based at the Fountain Volunteer Fire Department  approach the surrounded trailer in which two residents were stranded by floodwaters Thursday night. The team was able to bring the two to safety with a raft.

Based in Fountain, the SOT is equipped and trained to do water rescues, and was able to save the two with one of their rafts.

Amtower said the swiftness of the water prompted the call to the SOT in order to keep the rescuers as well as the stranded party as safe as possible.

“They set up a rope system to guide the raft over to the trailer,” he said.

As the rescue units worked, they received the report about New Creek coming  up out of its banks and completely covering Route 50.

“We shut the road down and when we cleared, the Division of Highways still had it closed to make sure everything was stable,” he said.

“I’d like to remind people, do not drive through standing water,” he continued. “You don’t know what might be underneath.”

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info. Have a story idea? Email me!