Several communities along the Ohio River are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Florence and the effects it could have on the area. There’s no guarantee it could have an impact, but staying prepared is crucial.
As of Wednesday, the Ohio River was back down to normal levels after heavy rains hit the Valley hard over the weekend. But, anxiety is still running high in Wellsville and East Liverpool because Florence could bring rain at the beginning of next week.
So, the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) will stay in close contact with both communities.
“At least once a day we’ll be checking in, especially as we get closer to the weekend and Florence actually makes landfall, and then they have a little bit better of an idea of what way it’s going to travel,” said CCEMA Director of Emergency Management Peggy Clark.
Communication is key. After the flooding this past weekend, the updates both communities received from the CCEMA impacted their every move.
“Making sure they were aware of the latest forecast, any time there was an update from the National Weather Service about the level of the water and when it was supposed to crest and then them communicating back to me what their observations were and if they were matching up with what the National Weather Service predictions were,” Clark said.
So at what point does the CCEMA start to take action?
“It really depends on what the effect is and how high the level of the water is. Typically, immediately there’s road closures that happen, and then we would take a look at if there’s gonna be any residents impacted that would have to be evacuated from their homes,” Clark said.
If anyone should have to evacuate, there are organizations ready to help.
“If there are residents that have to be moved, then we work with the Red Cross to get some shelters open,” Clark said.
Barry Podwel, Wellsville’s fire chief, says the village dodged a bullet over the weekend but isn’t out of the danger zone just yet — the department will be on “Florence watch” this weekend and is ready just in case.
“Trying to get the gate up, monitoring the gauge on that, the pumps — the pumps have to be turned on at a certain rise — and just trying to protect the people of Wellsville,” Podwel said.
As of right now, they aren’t sure what kind of impact Florence could have, but they want everyone to know they are prepared.
The CCEMA says they should know by this weekend what kind of effect Florence will have on the area.