Ripley officials and residents hold their breath heading into another potential downpour

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Ripley Police directed traffic Thursday night as a road downtown was temporarily closed.

RIPLEY —  After flash flooding hit Ripley Thursday, the National Weather Service has declared another Flash Flood Watch for Jackson County on Friday, which will remain in effect until midnight. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected tonight and Ripley officials are preparing for the worst. 

Carolyn Rader, Ripley's Mayor and Jackson County native, hasn't seen Ripley flood like it did Thursday. She — along with the Ripley Police, City Maintenance and volunteer firefighters — are preparing Ripley residents for more potential flooding. 

"We'll be ready and do the best we can to make it safe for everybody," Rader said. 

The Jackson County Director of Emergency Services Walter Smittle said no requests have been made for a shelter to open in case of flooding on Friday. 

"We've opened up shelters and only one person shows up," Smittle said. "[People] don't want to leave their homes." 

Smittle said several people have been robbed when using shelters in the past. It's common for people to stay at a relative's house if they are displaced. 

The drains on South Church Street were clogged Thursday, which added to the severity of the flooding in the area. Rader said once the drains were unclogged, the water receded quickly.

Despite the clogging, Rader doesn't have any concerns about the drain system. She said one of the City Council members used a rain gauge last night and found that it rained 3 and a half inches in 90 minutes. 

"I don't know if any drains that could have handled that," Rader said. "That was just a lot of water." 

About 10 rescues were made Thursday evening, Rick Gobble, Ripley's Fire Chief, said. No injuries were reported. 

Since last night several counties and towns from across the state have offered their assistance. All surrounding fire departments are in a "ready state" for tonight. Gobble said everything is on hold now as people wait for rain. 

"Everybody's kind of holding their breath right now, hoping nothing goes down tonight like it did last night," Gobble said. 

If the rain intensifies tonight and things get out of hand after surrounding counties have been called, Gobble said the Joint Operations Center will call in more help like the Swift Water Taskforce if necessary. 

During the flash flood Thursday, several members from the state's Swift Water Taskforce were volunteering at the Ripley Fire Department. Gobble said this came in handy with all of the water rescues they made. 

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.