WHEELING - The Ohio River reached its crest of 37.22 feet shortly after 1 p.m. today, according to the National Weather Service. As of 5 p.m., the river had receded to 37 feet.
The crest was .2 feet below the predicted crest of 37.4 feet, and more than 4 feet below the highest prediction of 41.4 feet on Friday.
Wheeling Island resident Tom Samol has experienced several river floods during his life. He ranks today's as "very minor."
Ohio River at 37 feet, and falling
Samol, who lives on the east side of North Front Street, along the Ohio River, spent this morning moving appliances and other items back into his home. He and friend Ace Coleman manuevered a washing machine onto the front porch just as the river reached 37.2 feet at 10:30 a.m. today.
"It would have been trouble if the river had crested where (the National Weather Service) originally predicted (41 to 42 feet), but as it is it's just a minor inconvenience," he said.
The Ohio River covered Samol's backyard, but he said he received little water in his basement.
Tom Samol, left, and Ace Coleman at Samol's North Front Street home.
His neighbor, Tim Stephens, said dealing with river floods is just part of life on Wheeling Island.
"This is what we live with," he said.
Numerous sight-seers crowded Wheeling's Heritage Port to watch the water rise.
At Moundsville, the river crested at 38.8 feet.
Flood stage in Wheeling is 36 feet, while Moundsville's flood stage is 37 feet.
In New Martinsville, the river is expected to crest at 33.9 feet, more than a foot below flood stage, while the river is expected to crest at 38.5 feet at Powhatan, where flood stage is 37 feet.
The 36-foot flood stage in Wheeling was reached around 11 p.m. Friday.
The first area of the city to experience overflowing water was the south end of Wheeling Island, where barriers had been placed at South Front and South Penn streets to prevent traffic around Wheeling Island Stadium. Water covered portions of those streets this morning, while activity continued in the parking lot of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
Also this morning, part of Main Street in Center Wheeling was closed as water pooled on the pavement near the Water Pollution Control plant.
In Benwood, flooding completely covered the road in the railroad underpass near the Kroger plaza and the Boggs Run exit from W.Va. 2. The water extended from the east end of the underpass to the plaza intersection and appeared to be as much as 18-inches deep. Firefighters had rescue vehicles and boats stationed in a setup area above the flooded street in the A&B Kia plaza near the Monro facility.
Even though the street was blocked to traffic, three vehicles in a 10-minute period maneuvered around the orange barrels and navigated through the flooded portion of the street. Police warn that driving through water not only jeopardizes life and property, but is also a citable offense.