CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – “Turn around, don’t drown” is the common phrase to remind drivers to avoid high water, but the West Virginia Division of Highways is sharing some photos to show another reason why driving into high water can be so dangerous – hidden sinkholes.
After heavy rains created flooding and high water in the Kellys Creek Road area near Sissonville, the WVDOH’s North Charleston crew worked through the night Wednesday, Aug. 10 to repair a portion of the road washed out by the flooding. The DOH says they first received the call around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10 and were on scene by 6:30 p.m. that night.
According to the DOH, the heavy rains that night caused runoff that washed fenceposts, concrete, car tires and other debris into the mouth of a culvert that crosses under the road. With the culvert blocked, water flowed around and under the road. The DOH says this washed away backfill and created a large sinkhole.
Crews got to work removing the debris from the culvert to restore the water flow. They say the culvert was not damaged, but the washed-out road had to be repaired. According to the DOH, after six and a half hours of work, including adding eight truckloads of stone to replace the washed-away fill, the road was reopened to traffic by 1 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 11.
“The North Charleston crew did an excellent job of evaluating the situation and performing the necessary work to re-open the road as quickly as possible,” said District 1 Maintenance Engineer Kathy Rushworth, P.E. “They worked through the night so citizens could safely travel the road the next morning.”
The DOH says they are using this incident to make drivers aware that there could easily be more danger under the high water than what they believe. Crews say that due to the mountainous terrain of the state, washouts like this one can happen fast.
“When you see high water overtaking a roadway, turn around,” said Joe Pack, P.E., WVDOH Chief Engineer of District Operations. “It’s not worth the risk to try to drive through. These photos show what words cannot. In high water, what’s underneath may not be the road as you know it. Stay safe, be patient, and our crews will have the roads reopened as soon as they’ve accessed and repaired the damage.”