While many people take Christmas week off to relax and celebrate the holiday, Wheeling's city workers have been busy repairing a waterline, fighting back a mudslide on Heritage Trail and trying to keep roads passable during snowy weather.
On Christmas night, Tuesday, at about 11:30 p.m. water department workers responded to a report of a broken hydrant spewing water onto Junior Avenue in Elm Grove. Public Works Director Russell Jebbia said he believes a motorist may have struck the hydrant. The crew worked through the night to isolate the leak, but more repair work was under way Wednesday.
And Monday, Christmas Eve, people using Heritage Trail near Wheeling Hospital reported a large section of the pedestrian trail was covered with a still-flowing mudslide. Jebbia said the mud invading the city's trail has been an ongoing problem during the past five years, stemming from a Bethlehem resident's hilly property. On Monday, however, the slide had become so large that it began flowing into the adjacent creek, despite city workers' efforts to scoop up the mud with a backhoe.
Photos by Shelley Hanson
A pickup truck makes its way on a snowy 16th Street in downtown Wheeling.
A backhoe driven by Sean Templin gets a scoop of cinders at the Wheeling Operations Center.
''It's a mess,'' Jebbia said. ''It's happened three or four times. ... During the last four or five days we had rain - not heavy but steady, and it gradually saturated the ground.''
Jebbia said the city installed a drainage pipe to divert the water, but now it is ''plugged solid.''
Wheeling Hospital spokesman Gregg Warren said the hospital property currently is not being impacted by the mudslide, but it has had problems in the past.
"Several years ago we did have a considerable amount of mud flow down the hill from that property onto our parking lot. The property owner was cooperative as we remedied our situation by having a contractor reclaim our hillside and install a drainage system to help prevent mud and water from damaging our property," Warren said.
And on Wednesday, operations employees started loading up their spreader trucks to tackle freezing rain and snow covering city streets. The same storm already had hit much of the Midwest with blizzard conditions.
''They've been out there all morning. We'll start to get the plows out shortly,'' Jebbia said Wednesday, noting the Operations Center in Clator is ''fully stocked'' with salt and cinders.
Despite city and state workers' best efforts, apparently Mother Nature was winning in some sections of the city and region, as the Ohio Valley and East Ohio regional transportation authorities suspended bus service from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday because of icy conditions and to give state highways workers time to treat roads.