OHIO VALLEY — After a few days of rain, several local roads have reopened, while the new question on the minds of area residents and business owners is, “What about the river?”
Driving through Mason, Meigs or Gallia counties, it quickly becomes obvious that the Ohio River is on the rise.
Predictions on Wednesday, according to Lockmaster Ralph Bales at the Racine Locks and Dam, have the river cresting below flood stage throughout the area.
As of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the water level at the Racine locks was 30 feet on the lower gauge, with a predicted crest of 38.2 feet at 7 p.m. on Thursday according the the National Weather Service. Flood stage at the Racine Locks is 41 feet.
At a water level of 33 feet — which should have been reached late Wednesday afternoon — the hanger gates at Racine are lifted to protect equipment.
Crest predictions at the Belleville Lock show the river cresting at 33.2 feet on Thursday afternoon. Flood stage at the Belleville Locks is 35 feet.
Water levels in Pomeroy are expected to reach 41.2 feet, leaving the water well off the streets in the downtown area. A water level of 46.5 feet places water on Main Street.
In Point Pleasant, the Ohio River is projected to crest just six inches shy of flood stage on Friday morning. Flood stage in Point Pleasant is 40 feet, with the crest predicted at 39.6 feet.
Current numbers for the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam show a crest of 43.4 feet at 11 a.m. on Friday. Flood stage at that location is 50 feet.
A water height of 41 feet at the locks in Eureka would cause flooding issues on Spruce Street in Gallipolis at the Chickamagua Creek Bridge.
As of 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the lone road closure remaining from Tuesday evening’s flooding in Ohio was Ohio 141 in Gallia County, according to an ODOT spokesperson. The road was closed between the Lawrence County line and Ohio 233.
All Ohio River crest predictions were made by the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., with a spokesperson cautioning the agency tends to “err” on the “worst case scenario side” of these predictions. The spokesperson also reminded residents that these crests are subject to change.