Rain Overwhelms Streets

BRIDGEPORT – Officials suspect a broken culvert created the river of water that overwhelmed the streets of Bridgeport on Friday afternoon.

Muddy brown water rushed through the Kirkwood neighborhood in waves, damaging several paved streets situated just off Howard Street. The water filled some residents’ basements with 6 inches or more of water.

Kennon Street resident Bill Howell said when the rainstorm began he wondered aloud to his wife, Danielle, about how a nearby creek was faring. When he looked outside, his driveway had turned into a stream.

“I walked through it and cleared a drain. It worked for awhile, but it was too much,” Howell said.

Another resident, who declined to be named, said he has lived in Bridgeport for 60 years. He noted this was not the first time he’s seen a deluge of water rushing through the neighborhood. The culverts, he said, have caused problems in the past.

Dave Ivan, Belmont County Emergency Management Agency director, said the cause of the rushing water was believed to be a broken culvert, although he was not positive.

The water forced the closure of several streets, including the Ohio 7 exit ramp into Bridgeport.

That didn’t stop some motorists, however, from using the exit and driving through high water at the intersection of South Lincoln Avenue and Howard Street. One woman driving a car plowed her way through the water, which appeared to be at least 2 feet deep.

A firefighter stationed on Howard Street told the woman if she did it again, she would be cited by police.

Because of the high water and curdled pavement, portions of other streets forced closed included Lee, Kennon, Jacquette, Whitely and Bennett.

The National Weather Service estimated the Bridgeport area received 1-2 inches of rain in a three-hour period Friday.

In Ohio County, emergency services Director Lou Vargo said a flash flood warning was issued for Short Creek, but no road flooding occurred. A similar storm ripped through Hancock and Brooke counties Thursday, causing flash flooding and forcing some residents to evacuate from their homes. The wind caused trees to fall, and hail also was produced.