30-Foot-Deep Sinkhole Opens in Martins Ferry

Marshall County EMA?officials report overflowing creeks

Photos by Dylan McKenzie Martins Ferry Mayor Robert Krajnyak, center, stands with Assistant Fire Chief Jack Regis, left, and engineer Jeff Vaughn as they examine a sinkhole that opened Friday near the Jaycee Manor Apartments.

MARTINS FERRY — Heavy rain Friday afternoon was blamed for a large sinkhole that opened up near the Jaycee Manor Apartments in Martins Ferry, startling local residents as the ground gave way.

Mayor Robert Krajnyak was on the scene to help evaluate the damage and determine what could be done to repair the problem. Krajnyak said residents of the apartment complex reported the ground began to open up around 3:30 p.m. Friday, with the hole quickly growing as the ground simply caved in.

The result was a large sinkhole that gaped open near a corner of one of the apartment buildings. Water from broken utility lines beneath the ground could be heard running into the sinkhole, which officials estimated was nearly 30 feet deep.

“We had slightly over an inch of rain in almost half an hour,” Krajnyak said. “All the way down to the bottom part of the wall washed away, and just sucked everything down with it.”

Krajnyak said he did not have any initial estimates on what it would take to repair the sinkhole, but he said engineers would soon take a look at the pit and determine an estimate on repair cost, as well as an initial plan on what to do to shore up the space, by the end of the day Monday. He thanked residents of Jaycee Manor and Martins Ferry for being patient as city leaders work to resolve the problem.

“We’re just going to do everything we can to get the problem taken care of as quickly as possible,” Krajnyak said.

Friday’s rain — delivered by the remnants of Tropical Depression Cindy — caused problems throughout the Ohio Valley. Creeks ran high in Marshall County, with several –including Big Grave Creek, Fish Creek, Upper Grave Creek and North Fork Creek — spilling from their banks, according to Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart.

There were no reports of injuries or major property damage, according to Hart, although water did enter some garages and basements along Upper Grave Creek in the Cameron area.

Water also covered the softball field along 12th Street in Moundsville. The creek behind the walking trail in Moundsville also rose after the rain event.

The baseball and football fields in Cameron also were under water, according to Hart.

Emergency Management Director Lou Vargo reported no significant flooding in Ohio County. Most of the problems, he said, came from falling trees and downed power lines.

In the Hil-Dar area of Wheeling, a tree fell over onto a Wheeling Housing Authority structure, causing roof damage.

Vargo said crews kept watch over the county’s creeks and streams throughout the afternoon and evening. He said he didn’t expect any major problems as long as the waterways remained free of blockages.

Hart noted one driver on Big Grave Creek road became stranded in the high water. That driver was not hurt, but Hart said it easily could have turned out worse — and drivers need to be cautious and seek alternate routes when high water is present.

“When that happens, not only do you put yourself and your loved ones at risk, also you put the lives of the first responders at risk,” Hart said.

Cindy spread drenching rains from the Southeast to the Midwest, triggering flash flood warnings over several states including West Virginia, whose residents on Friday marked the anniversary of deadly floods last June.

The storms stretching for hundreds of miles are expected to push river levels higher in coming days as the remnants of a tropical storm cross Tennessee and Kentucky into West Virginia. The severe weather, which was blamed for recent coastal flooding in the Deep South, tornadoes and one death, is rumbling closer to the densely populated East Coast.

As of late Friday, the Ohio River was predicted to crest at 25.6 feet at Wheeling at 8 a.m. Sunday. Flood stage is 36 feet.

The National Weather Service said Friday afternoon that Cindy was winding down and had lost tropical characteristics as heavy rain potential moved east across the Ohio Valley and into Pennsylvania with severe thunderstorms forming to the south.

With Cindy’s remnants a threat over a huge area, many just hoped severe weather would pass them without harm.

“We should have a comfortable weekend coming up if we can just get through tonight and tomorrow,” said Greg Meffert, lead forecaster in the Paducah, Kentucky, weather service office.

The U.S. Storm Prediction Center said severe storms pose a lingering threat from the Southeast into western Pennsylvania. Even Indiana in the Midwest felt the impact of Cindy, which sprang Tuesday from the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm before roughing up the Deep South and making landfall Thursday. It has since weakened to a depression while heading far inland.

Cindy was blamed for one death: Nolan McCabe, 10, of St. Louis, Missouri, was vacationing with family on the Alabama coast when he was hit by a log carried in on a big wave. Cindy also caused widespread coastal highway and several short-lived tornadoes.

In Alabama, the weather service said, an EF-2 twister with winds up to 120 mph struck just outside Birmingham Thursday. Several businesses were damaged and at least four people were hurt.

In Tennessee, Memphis Light Gas and Water reported that as many as 10,000 customers were without power Friday morning, amid local reports of heavy rain, gusting winds and some morning traffic snarls.

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