Ohio Valley Hillsides Are Slip-Slidin’ Away

Photo by Heather Ziegler Mud slid Monday morning across the northbound lanes of W.Va. 2/U.S. 250 after heavy rains soaked the Ohio Valley on Sunday. Slides covered roads for at least part of the day on Monday, when some schools in West Virginia also decided to cancel because of weather-related events.

WHEELING — After Mother Nature took out her wrath on hillsides and roads throughout the region, officials said Monday that they expected most things to be back to normal by today.

Sunday’s heavy rains led to mud sliding Monday morning onto W.Va. 2/U.S. 250 inside the Wheeling city limits and just south of Interstate 470. Mud slides were a problem in Belmont County, too, where portions of Ohio 7 were at least temporarily closed because of mud slides in two locations.

A complete list of roads closed and other weather-related issues throughout the Ohio Valley was not available by presstime. But, officials were able to provide details on some of the activity.

The mud slide along W.Va. 2/U.S. 250 occurred around 10:30 a.m. just north of the Benwood exit. It completely blocked northbound traffic, which required drivers to turn around and return through the Benwood exit to detour around the obstacle.

For most of the rest of the day, West Virginia Division of Highways personnel, including district engineer Gus Suwaid, were on hand addressing the cleanup. Suwaid said the road was expected to be cleared by this morning as crews were working late into the night.

“There’s a lot of stuff coming down that hillside, so we’re working on it as diligently as possible, and we’re hoping by (this morning) to have it open,” Suwaid said.

The highway engineer also said that while the rain led to minor slides and some closures elsewhere, the W.Va. 2 mud slide was the most obvious consequence of the storms as weather-related events calmed down late Monday.

“Of course, as the result of this intense rain, roads are sliding all over the district, but this is the most major one that I’m aware of,” he said.

Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Director Lou Vargo said heavy rains in the area resulted in multiple slides.

“We’ve had several slips on GC&P Road,” said Vargo. “A smaller one happened later on in the afternoon near Short Mills Creek.”

A portion of GC&P Road and roads in the Short Mills Creek area remained closed Monday night, Vargo said. He did not know when they might reopen.

Wheeling Police Department spokesman Philip Stahl said other than the damage on W.Va. 2, the city did not experience other weather-related events.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said all state routes in the area were open and running smoothly by late Monday.

But that wasn’t the case earlier in the day, when mud slid across Ohio 7 in Martins Ferry and Shadyside.

A dispatcher said a “big rock and mud slide” occurred along Ohio 7 just south of Shadyside early in the day. The slide temporarily restricted traffic to one southbound lane. He said traffic had been reduced to one lane on Ohio 7 in Martins Ferry, too. But he also said both sites had been cleaned up and that two-lane traffic had been restored in both areas.

The same was true for county and township roads. At about 9 p.m. Monday, a dispatcher at the Belmont County 911 Center said no roads in the county were closed or restricted due to new slips as a result of the weekend weather.

Becky Horne, executive administrative assistant at the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency, said earlier in the day there was an embankment failure in Pease Township. On Jug Run Road in Colerain, damage occurred to culverts and a bridge, which resulted in a road closure there.

Horne said with various changes in weather this week, it is important for motorists to keep an eye on their surroundings.

“They could be loosening up with the weather and the winds could knock them over into the roads,” said Horne. “Trees have fallen over in the past resulting in them landing on vehicles. You have to be a defensive driver and be on the lookout.”

In Monroe County, a sheriff’s department dispatcher said no new problems occurred. She said Ohio 556 is closed near Beallsville due to a slip, but that problem started “a couple weeks ago.” The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department also reported that no new problems had occurred there as a result of the heavy rain.

Meanwhile, schools were closed in Hancock County, where officials there also said part of W.Va. 2 between Chester and Newell also had been closed because of a mud slide there. Schools also closed in Wetzel and Tyler counties because of weather-related problems.

Cameron High School in Marshall County also let students out at 11:30 a.m. Monday because of a power outage. However, it remained unclear by presstime if the outage was weather-related.

Schools on both sides of the Ohio River were expected to be open today.