MORGANTOWN — Derek and Angela Winter are at a loss.
Since February, their property off Monongalia County 857, along Fairchance Road, has been flooding due to a blocked culvert at the bottom of Darnell Hollow Road.
In order to get her mail every day, Angela has to put on her rain boots and walk through large puddles. The water on Monday was about a foot high, but that can vary with the amount of rainfall.
She said the pooling water gets worse as it rains more.
When it does get worse, she said she can’t see the end of her yard because it will totally flood. Her husband dug ditches and laid sandbags across the driveway, which makes it hard to get in and out of because of the steepness, but has saved the driveway from washing out anymore.
“If I don’t have these ditches here it just runs all the way up into the house, and this will only stop so much. I don’t want to put giant ditches in the yard, I shouldn’t have to,” said Derek.
The Winters have made the state Division of Highways (DOH) aware of the situation. They have made countless calls, but seem to have no luck getting the problem addressed. The DOH sent a crew out around six weeks ago, but they could not fix the problem.
They told the Winters they would have to bring in a special truck to fix it and the truck was in Marion County. Angela was told there was one truck for District 4. Derek was told there was one truck in all of West Virginia to clean out the culvert.
“I don’t know what’s true, what’s not,” said Angela.
The Dominion Post contacted the Division of Highways, but received no information in time for this report.
On Monday, she reached out again to the DOH office in the Morgantown area and was told they could send men with shovels down to alleviate the problem. She was also told ultimately that would do no good.
“Do you understand how much money you’re costing the state, because I’m billing the state for this? I’ve already got the papers. There’s no sense to try to do anything to fix it because it keeps flooding and he told me ‘we don’t care,’ ” she said.
There is a bus that stops at the opening of Darnell Hollow, and water pools there and will accumulate more as it rains. The water will also run more swiftly across the road and into the Winters’ property. The pavement at the curve of 857, across from Calvary United Methodist Church is also busting up from the water constantly running across it.
“We’ve told them all this, they don’t seem to care. Of course we are concerned with our property, and the mold that could possibly grow in our basement from this, but also somebody actually getting hurt. A child getting hurt that’s in a car, but this is horrible,” she said.
She said they have a call in to Monongalia County Commission, as well as the Charleston DOH office, but have received no answer about when the problem will be addressed.
“I’ve called here in Morgantown. I’ve called Bridgeport because a friend of mine used to work in the Bridgeport division. She gave me a name of somebody down there, and of course every time I call he’s in a meeting. He never returns my phone call. If I held my breath I would have been dead waiting on those phone calls,” said Angela.
The Winters have lived in their home for 20 years, and said this has only happened one other time. Then, the DOH has come out and addressed the problem. She said it’s been at least 15 years since that happened.
They said they try to be understanding that the DOH has a lot going on, but Angela said the weather is getting hotter and they can’t keep the basement dry. They know that mold is going to grow.
They have fans running trying to dry up the water but the ground is too saturated.
The water may also pose a problem for vehicles on the busy road. Derek said people who are aware of the situation will blow right through the water, but some may see the water and slam on their brakes and risk being struck by a car behind them. Also, many large trucks and school buses travel the road daily. They said they don’t care if they replace the pipe or put in another culvert, but doing something is better than nothing.
“We’re just at a loss, and don’t know what else to do. I’ve called the police to see if maybe they would be able to call the state and tell them they need to fix this,” said Derek.
The Winters keep waiting for the truck that is supposed to come and fix the problem, but six weeks has gone by and they still have yet to see it. The most they’ve received is a form saying they could file a claim. Derek said there’s no point in filing a claim until the problem is fixed because it will continue happening.
“Basically nobody wants to take responsibility for nothing,” he said. “It’s always somebody else’s problem.”