Mon Forest District Ranger Briefs about the June, 2016 Flood Damages & Repairs at the Forest
Cynthia Sandeno, the Marlinton/White Sulphur District Ranger, talks about the damages done to this portion of the Monongahela National Forest by the June, 2016 flood, the status of the repairs and opportunities for contractors.
“On June 23rd and 24th, 2016, torrential rain caused epic flooding in West Virginia” said Ranger Sandeno. “This one ion one thousand year event was devastating to many families and businesses. It was also a cause of damage for many roads, trails and recreation sites in the southern half of the Monongahela National Forest. About 60% of Forest roads were damaged, which equals about four hundred and fifty miles of road. Eleven Forest road bridges and thirty-two major culverts were damaged by the flood and about twenty-five of these structures needed to be fully replaced. And about one half, or a hundred miles of our trails were damaged. The flood also had a huge impact on some of our recreation sites such as the Blue Bend Beach and the campsites along the Williams River, downstream of Tea Creek Campground. This damage has kept us very busy. Last year alone, forest Staff placed about seventeen hundred tons of rip-rap and about eleven thousand, five hundred tons of gravel on a hundred twenty-eight miles of flood damaged roads, but there is still a lot of work to do. Because supporting our rural economies is one of our top priorities, we wanted to find a way to keep as much of this work in West Virginia as possible. The Monongahela National forest has created a pilot initiative to connect with local communities and contractors to keep this work here. In an effort to achieve this, we’ll be hosting four outreach meetings to share information about the remaining flood work. Projects will vary in scale and complexity and will span the Southern half of the Forest in Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Webster and Nicholas Counties. Any contractor who specializes in excavation, highway construction, heavy equipment operation and trail or bridge construction are welcome to come to these informal meetings. The meetings will discuss how to become involved, the type of work that’s ready to be done, and the location of this work. The Small business Administration will also be at these meetings to provide additional support. There will be lots of time to answer individual questions, and the meetings will bne held in four different locations. On February 27th at one o’clock, there will be a meeting in Richwood City Hall; on March 1st at 10 am in the Phil Gainer Community Center in Elkins. And on March 14th at 9:30 am we’ll host a meeting in the Marlinton Wellness Center, and then on March 14th at 1:30 pm we’ll have a second meeting at White Sulphur Springs Public Library. Some of these projects will allow small businesses and individual contractors to work as sub-contractors on the project under the Alonso Group; however there will also be projects administered by the Federal Highways Administration that larger businesses might be interested in. Please attend one of these meetings to learn more and become involved in these efforts.”
“I also want to share a quick update on one of our recreational areas. During that June flood, Anthony Creek washed away flagstone, undermined the concrete base of Blue Bend Beach, cracked concrets and deposited a large gravel rock bar in the swimming hole. Blue Bend Beach is a community treasure and we wanted to not only repair this area, but hopefully even make it better. We want the site to be there for many more generations to enjoy. Last fall, all of the in-stream work was completed, including putting in a new concrete retaining wall and metal sheet piling to provide protection for the beach for the future. The contractor has also been working on replacing the flagstone along the beach that was washed away, and the weather has been making this task a little bit of a challenge. But in the next few weeks if we get good weather, we hope to have the project completed by the end of March or early April. That will leave one final project piece that needs to be completed- that’s a trail bridge near the beach. This bridge is being designed right now, and hopefully we’ll be ready to solicit the construction and installation of the bridge this summer. This is one example of a project that will be sent through the Alonso Group and will be available to contractors.”
“I want to thank all of our Forest staff and local contractor who have been helping us restore our public lands over the last year and a half, especially our Forest and Maintenance Crew. I also want to invite even more West Virginians to be involved in the remaining work.“