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VDOT dealing with high water in Southwest Va., prepping for snow

Steve Igo • Jan 31, 2013 at 8:43 AM

WISE -- Virginia Department of Transportation highway maintenance crews were still dealing with high water problems on Thursday while bracing for snow overnight into Friday.

Heavy rains on Wednesday posed flooding problems and some rock slides across VDOT's Wise Residency service area that includes Lee, Wise, Scott and Dickenson counties overnight into early Thursday. Following right behind that soaker is a blast of arctic air bringing along predictions of 1- to 3-inches of snow by Friday morning.

VDOT Assistant Wise Residency Administrator Jackie Christian on Thursday said road crews were still dealing with high water in some places, particularly some areas of Scott and Lee counties, plus cleaning up from receding water elsewhere, all while preparing for overnight snows into Friday.

"Most roads in Wise County are okay now. The water's gone down in those places that had problems. We had several flooded overnight but now the water is going down quite a bit. We had a miscellaneous small slides here in there in the county but nothing we've not been able to clean up at this time," Christian said.

"In Scott, we have several roads that are still impassable, either under water and/or damaged. In Lee County most of the water is going down but we have some similar things down there like in Scott. We have two slides, one is at Rt. 58 near the Scott County line on Powell Mountain, something we've been monitoring. And also on Rt. 70 near Jonesville, we've got a slide there. The contractor is scheduled to take care of it completely on Feb. 4 but he's there now getting some cleanup started."

Mostly it was the usual low lying areas of Wise County that experienced high water out of streams onto to roadways overnight, Christian said.

"At one time in Wise (County) we had at least 15 to 20 secondary roads with water. The usual places like the East Stone Gap area and some around Wise, just scattered, really, throughout the county," he said.

"We had a slide on Stone Mountain but that's cleaned up now. Our crews are out still working the slides and prepping for the snow event. We will have crews out all night tonight. We're still working flood damage and preparing for what we're expecting (overnight into Friday)."

Bitter cold temperatures, perhaps into the single digits overnight and Friday night into Saturday, pose a road clearing challenge, he said.

"They're giving us 2- to 3-inches (of snow accumulation), depending on the area. The temperatures so cold is what's going to hurt us. It will probably be sticking when it starts," Christian said. "Water across the roadways is what crews are working on now. That could form ice tonight. It's just been a busy, busy night for our crews, I'll say that. And we're going to stay busy all night tonight, too."

Scott County Emergency Management Director Jeff Brickey said many of the closed roads there had been reopened as overflowing creeks and streams began to recede.

"Big Moccasin is coming down and is out of the road out on Old Nickelsville Highway and on Filter Plant Road," Brickey said. "The smaller streams are coming on down but the rivers will continue to come up and probably peak late tonight or Friday."

Brickey said the Clinch River is expected to crest late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning at 21 to 22 feet. Flood stage for the Clinch River at Speers Ferry is 18 feet, Brickey said.

The North Fork of the Holston is also expected to exceed its flood stage, which is 12 feet.

The high water caused many roads to be closed for the second time in as many weeks, Brickey said, including portions of the Clinch River Highway at Clinchport and between Fort Blackmore and Dungannon.

Flooding was also reported along Methodist Camp Road and temporary closures took place at varying times on lower portions of Fairview Road.

A VDOT spokeswoman said several roads along the Holston River in Hiltons -- as well as two secondary routes in the Yuma area -- were still affected by high water Thursday afternoon.

In Lee County, high water was still a factor on routes 765, 621, 708 and 633 in the Dryden maintenance area, and routes 70, 656, 648, 621 ad 665 in the Jonesville maintenance area.

Staff writer Wes Bunch contributed to this report.

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