Sep 14 2018

Morgantown Utility Board gears up in anticipation of rain event

Provides public safety information

As former Hurricane Florence moves ashore, Morgantown Utility Board is taking preparatory measures for a possible significant rain event in our area. While amounts may appear minimal in comparison to rainfall received to our south, already saturated ground from recent rainfall magnifies the threat of flooding.

“Although the track of the storm continues to change, our staff are hard at work doing everything possible to minimize potential issues and to ensure that our services remain available,” said MUB General Manager Tim Ball. “Public safety is our number one priority.”

Some of the actions MUB staff are taking include the deployment of generators to pump stations, the placement of sandbag barriers, and ensuring that water tanks are topped off.

Of course, MUB staff are also inspecting and monitoring the stormwater system.

“Crews continue to conduct inspections of areas most prone to flooding. These inspections ensure that there are no obstructions and that stormwater can flow freely through the area,” Ball said. “Such inspections will also be conducted during the storm and after, as warranted.”

However, Ball emphasizes that residents must remember that in the event of a large storm, the system can become overwhelmed and water can quickly pool along roadways and streams. In many areas this is a planned event to assist with keeping water out of people’s homes.

“Our stormwater system is designed to manage a specific capacity based upon previous rainfall benchmarks. Designing beyond these benchmarks is financially impractical so we do plan overflow areas to help manage extreme events,” he said.

Understanding this is critical because when a storm produces water flows that extend beyond stormwater capacities, flooding is likely.

“It’s important to keep in mind that severe storms can blow and wash items into culverts or streams and create issues. Such events are impossible to plan for since there are simply too many variables to control. Our predictive methods simply cannot control for an infinite array of possibilities. No matter the planning, Mother Nature will impose her will,” Ball added.

For this reason, MUB provides the below tips for protecting families and property—

  • Know where you live. If you reside in a flood plain, no amount of planning or system development can guarantee 100% effectiveness at preventing flooding. The breaching of system capacity and/or any number of uncontrollable events can quickly cause problems.
  • Be sure storm drains near your home remain clear of debris. If you are unable to clear obstructions contact MUB at (304) 296-4322 and crews will be dispatched as soon as possible.
  • Pay attention to streams near your home and within your neighborhood. While the growth of vegetation along a stream is both expected and necessary to preserving the stream and water flow, foreign objects, fallen trees and other items can cause obstructions. If you witness any of this let MUB know.
  • If you note that the capacity of a storm system has been compromised and water is flowing from it, let MUB know. Do NOT attempt to investigate the matter on your own. Remember that every gallon of water weighs more than eight pounds and its force multiplies when it is moving. You can easily be washed off your feet and/or struck by objects caught in the flow.
  • Do NOT drive through flooded roadways. Not only can your vehicle be swept away but you do not know how deep the water is or whether the road surface has been damaged.
  • Keep a close eye on children and do not allow them to play in or around stormwater systems.
  • MUB crews inspect areas prone to flooding prior to significant storms (when warning is given), during storms (when possible) and after storms. Our crews also periodically inspect our stormwater system. If you see a member of our team in your area and have a question or concern, please let them know.
  • If your home has a floor drain connected to a sewer line, move items near the drain to another part of your home. This can prevent damage should the storm line become blocked for any reason. This rule also applies to older homes with showers and toilets in a basement.
  • Pay attention to weather patterns and monitor local emergency broadcasts. In the Morgantown area information is disseminated by MECCA 9-1-1. They provide a number of options for receiving information. More information can found on MECCA’s website at https://www.mecca911.org/.
  • For templates and information on preparing your family emergency plan, visit ready.gov/make-a-plan

MUB reminds the public that we all play an important role in protecting our raw water resources and ensuring public safety. If you see something or have questions please contact MUB.

Emergencies should be addressed to (304) 296-4322. This number is manned by MUB staff 24 hours a day, every day.