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Wheeling officials gather to prepare for flooding

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Wheeling officials gathered earlier today for a briefing to get everyone on the same page for the upcoming flood. Members from the fire and police departments, 911, public works, were all in attendance, and it was led by the Emergency Management Association.

In the meeting, they prepared for the expected flooding, and they issued advice to city residents.

First, don’t drive through the high water.

“Even if you’re driving down a street that you know how deep the water would be to cause you any problems,” said Chief Larry Helms of the Wheeling Fire Department, “you don’t know if the storm drains are washed out or the pavement is washed out or anything. Just use common sense, be very careful.”

Officials are also urging residents to not stop to watch the floods, as spectators can cause issues for emergency personnel.

“Our biggest problem back in February of this year was onlookers,” said Chief Shawn Schertfeger of the Wheeling Police Department. “It get it, it’s very interesting — Mother Nature at work. But it does create hazards for first responders.”

If you are projected to be affected by the floods, especially residents of Wheeling Island, officials urge you to prepare now.

“If it affects you, now is the time to get things taken care of,” said Lou Vargo, the Ohio County EMA Director. “Get your food, your prescriptions and things, in case you wouldn’t be able to get off the island. And just be prepared for the high water.”

In anticipation for the future conditions, this weekend’s Sternwheel Festival has been canceled. 

If the worst happens and someone gets caught up in the floodwaters, specially trained first responders will be ready. 

“Any residents get in trouble, we’ll have boats available,” said Vargo. “The swift water team is available. We’ll be able to respond twenty-four hours a day.”

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