WELLSVILLE - As of Tuesday evening, the passage of Hurricane Sandy has brought close to three inches of rain to the Wellsville area since Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service, with showers forecasted to continue through at least Thursday.
At New Cumberland Lock and Dam, the Ohio River was observed at just over 24 feet on Tuesday evening, and the National Weather Service has forecast a crest this afternoon of 28.5 feet, which is 7.5 feet below flood stage.
Although the Ohio River has not risen drastically during this period, village mayor Susan Haugh says she has been closely monitoring the weather over the last two days. Additional safety forces have been on standby as a precaution should the water reach hazardous levels. "We're cautiously optimistic," Mayor Haugh said. "We're definitely prepared."
The gauge affixed to the Lisbon Street bridge over Little Yellow Creek in Wellsville showed an increased but not yet dangerous water level as of Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Of particular concern has been the consequences of the sewer pump and forced main replacement project on Second Street. The excavation required for the project meant that power lines to the nearby flood control pump station, which houses the sole functional flood pump in the village, had to be disconnected. Haugh said the installation itself has been completed, but the rains began before the new works could be covered over and the power lines reconnected.
According to Mayor Haugh, a meeting held with representatives from AEP Ohio and Rudzik Excavating, which is completing the project, assured her that power could be restored to the pump in case of a flood emergency. "All we do is say, 'OK you guys, you've got 24 hours,'" she said.
Haugh said the next few days will be of more concern as water begins to flow from the higher elevations of West Virginia and other points upstream. "We don't concern ourselves as much with what's coming out of the sky as what we get coming off the hills," she said.
Jeff Haugh assured that, with a full crew of personnel from the Wellsville department and assistance from Highlandtown Volunteer Fire Department, the floodwall gates can be erected in two hours. "When you're doing it for real out there, with the rain coming down, two hours and it's up," he said.