Rushing creek washes out bridge, main waterline in Mingo County

December 19, 2018

LENORE, W.Va. - Thousands of residents in Mingo County are without water after a swollen creek washed out a bridge and main waterline this past weekend near Lenore, West Virginia.

Mingo County Emergency Services Director Doug Goolsby said several agencies rushed into action Sunday to help alleviate issues and have been proactive with the situation.

Goolsby said heavy debris underneath a bridge in the Lenore area blocked water from passing underneath, causing the water from Pigeon Creek to rush up and around the bridge. The main line ran across the creek, and the fast-rising water washed out approximately 200 feet of pipe.

Officials said getting to the other side of the creek to repair the pipes is difficult because the bridge has been destroyed. Much of the creek bank was washed away, exposing the water pipe.

J.B. Heflin, general manager of the Mingo County Public Service District, said his workers could not cross the private bridge where the pipe was washed out. However, he said there was another gas company bridge near the damaged one, and he hoped that Tuesday crews could get an excavator across that span. They have obtained stone from a local coal company and hope that trucks will be able to bring in the rock to build a road to get to the damaged pipe.

Heflin said if all goes well, the damaged pipe could be repaired very soon.

“We hope to get everything repaired by Wednesday,” he said.

However, he said that until the main waterline is repaired, close to 2,000 customers could be affected.

With the water pressure being very low and the water storage tanks for PSD not being filled back up to the line breakage, school was canceled at Tug Valley High School, Dingess Elementary and both Lenore and Kermit Pre-K8 schools.

An unrelated waterline break for the town of Matewan also caused major problems for those customers. School was canceled at Mingo Central and Matewan Pre-K8 on Monday. Repairs on that line were underway Monday in hopes of having full service back to that area by Wednesday morning, Dec. 19.

Mingo County Superintendent of Schools Don Spence made the decision Monday to cancel school for all of Mingo County the rest of the week, since much of the county had water issues. Christmas break was slated to start Thursday, Dec. 20.

Goolsby said he contacted the state’s office of Homeland Security, and they have brought a water buffalo tanker truck to the Lenore Volunteer Fire Department. Residents without water can take jugs and containers there to get potable drinking water. Both the Kermit and Williamson fire departments, which are not affected by the line break, have said residents of the Lenore, Naugatuck and East Kermit communities can fill up containers at those three locations from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have had great cooperation among all entities in the county,” Goolsby said. “We have covered this situation the best we could.”

Those areas will remain on a boil-water advisory. Goolsby said if there is any water remaining in the lines, it would be best for people to boil the water before using it for cooking, cleaning or brushing their teeth.

Kyle Lovern is editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at 304-236-3526 or via email at klovern@HDMediaLLC.com.

Update hourly