Rain causes flash flooding

NEWPORT – Early morning rains caused flash flooding in Independence Township Friday morning, covering roads with debris and slamming part of a double-wide trailer into a bridge.

A National Weather Service co-op in Newport reported 1.6 inches of rain had fallen by 6 a.m., and even more was recorded in some areas.

“I measured two-and-a-half inches of rain, and it came in a short time, two hours,” said Jedd Butler, who spent most of the day Friday with his fellow Independence Township trustees clearing debris from roads. “It’s been really, really quite a day, it has. I don’t want another one like it.”

The swiftly rising waters of Archers Fork picked up both pieces of a double-wide trailer that had recently been delivered to owner John Burnoni’s property at 3635 Archers Fork Road and carried them away, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The first part “actually went through the bridge and under the bridge in pieces,” said Washington County Engineer Roger Wright.

The second became stuck on the bridge, with the roof on the driving surface and the remainder of the structure wedged beneath it.

Wright said the trailer “wracked the truss a small amount” but did not do any structural damage to the bridge itself.

“We just got very lucky,” he said.

The trailer rendered the bridge impassable for several hours, exacerbating traffic issues in an area where people are already having to detour due to the replacement of the Archers Fork bridge on Archers Fork Road. Some people have been using Elk Run Road, and Butler said it had debris scattered all over it Friday morning.

“We had to have the backhoe and the road loader and of course the tractor over there this afternoon,” he said.

The swiftly rising water led Frontier Local Schools to enact a two-hour delay on the first day of classes for the new school year.

“It was dangerous around here for a while,” Frontier Superintendent Bruce Kidder said.

Even though the flooding went down relatively quickly, there were about 15 students who could not be picked up by bus for their classes at Lawrence Elementary and Frontier High School, he said.

“There were kids we could not get to,” Kidder said.

Wright said county crews worked to repair a bridge approach that washed out on Big Run Road, also in Independence Township.

“We got that semi-repaired now,” he said, noting that it was open and passable, but only with one lane.

The area should get a break from rain over the weekend, with the National Weather Service forecast calling for mostly sunny skies until a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms rolls in on Tuesday.