MEIGS COUNTY — It is one of the unavoidable facts of life along the river — eventually it will rise.
It had been 13 years since Meigs County had seen water levels as high as they were over this Presidents’ Day weekend.
From the far eastern portion of the county, the Ohio River began to crest on Sunday, eventually cresting at 50.4 feet in Pomeroy around midnight Monday morning.
At the Belleville Lock in Reedsville, the river crested at midnight Sunday morning at a height of 42.42 feet, more than seven feet over the flood stage of 35 feet. This was the highest water level since a crest of 44.50 feet on Jan. 8, 2005.
The crest at the Racine Lock came at a level of 47.69 feet at 7 p.m. on Sunday, just shy of major flood stage of 48 feet. This was the highest crest at the Racine Lock since 48.87 feet on Jan. 9, 2005.
The crest at 50.4 feet in Pomeroy was equal to the January 2005 flood.
“The river is currently receding at a slow rate. As the river recedes the damage created will be monitored and clean up will begin for local businesses and residence,” stated a news release from the Meigs County Emergency Management Agency.
Both state and local officials reacted over the weekend to the flooding in the area and the help needed to recover from it.
“Whether it’s flash flooding or the river, high water is a way of life for us in Meigs County. In spite of losses and in the face of adversity, Meigs County residents shine. Neighbors will help neighbors and strangers will help strangers, proving that our people are our greatest asset,” said Meigs County Commissioner President Randy Smith of the county’s recovery efforts from the flooding.
Likewise, State Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) is looking toward the needed help for the region according to a statement on Sunday evening.
“I have spoken with local and state officials — including the governor’s office, Ohio’s Emergency Management director as well as the Emergency Management Agency directors in Athens, Meigs and Washington counties — to ensure that necessary state resources are available to assist Southeast Ohio in dealing with the severe flooding. I’d like to extend a special thank you to all of the local officials and volunteers who have assisted those impacted by the flooding. I urge residents to continue exercising caution when dealing with flooded roadways and to check in on neighbors who may need assistance,” stated Edwards.
On Monday afternoon, Edwards arrived in Pomeroy, bringing hot meals from KFC, Miller’s Chicken and Texas Roadhouse of Athens to those in the area impacted by flooding. Edwards stated that the Athens area businesses either donated meals or provided discounted prices to assist those who had been impacted by the flooding. Meals were set up at the Ewing-Schwarzel Family Center to be distributed to anyone in the area in need.
The Meigs County Council on Aging also provided food on Monday afternoon.
As the water begins to recede, clean up will be the next phase for those along Meigs County’s 56 miles of river frontage and beyond.
Meigs EMA, the American Red Cross and the Pomeroy Merchants Association have set up a donation and distribution area on Court Street to provide for the needs of individuals and businesses impacted by the flooding.
Donations being accepted at the location include: mops, push brooms, garden hoses, buckets, trash bags, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, sponges, bleach, pine sol (similar products) and dust masks. Donations may also be dropped off at 110 Court Street for this donation drive.
The location began distributing these items to area businesses and residents on Monday, with the center set to reopen Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
Flood kits are also available at the Mulberry Community Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday through Friday for individuals and businesses in need of cleaning supplies.
EMA Deputy Director Brody Davis said that the office is also working to determine other potential distribution sites, and work with individuals to meet specific needs in the aftermath of the flooding.
It is not yet known what the damage to the area will look like as it will take time for the water to recede before many areas become visible.
Anyone who has experienced damage from the flooding is asked to call the Meigs County Emergency Management Agency at 740-992-4541. If you do not speak with a representative please leave a message and you will be connected as quickly as possible.