Flash Floods in Drilling & Fracking & Pipelining Areas Cause Severe Damages

by Duane Nichols on December 10, 2023

The McClain’s road became a torrent. (This and other photos are in the main Article.)

‘Following the Water’ Provides a Trail Straight to the MVP in West Virginia Flash Floods

View this posting by Michael M. Barrick, Appalachian Chronicle, December 10, 2023

BIG ISAAC, W.Va. – When the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) started surveying in the mountains of North Central West Virginia in 2015, landowner and farmer Robert McClain wrote the MVP – twice – warning of catastrophic flooding and other dangers to his farm and surrounding community if the MVP stuck to its plans. (Excerpts from Mr. McClain’s letters are near the end of this article).

He never received an answer from the MVP to those letters, but McClain, 77, now looks to be a prophet. Or perhaps he is simply a West Virginian who knows that water flows downhill. Because even though the MVP never answered McClain’s letters, a flash flood that occurred on Sept. 9, 2023 has demonstrated that MVP can’t ignore gravity.

That was made evident on that Saturday evening, when Mr. McClain and his son, Justin, returned home about 8 o’clock in the evening from an outing that day to find their farm was flooded. Justin recalls, “It had rained that day before we got home. It had stormed about 6 o’clock.” He adds, “We couldn’t get up the road to the house. Water was running down it. Fish were flopping in the road from where the water had run down the hill over a neighbor’s pond.” Slowly, they made it out of the swift water up the road and into their driveway. The water had gotten nearly four feet high where they first come onto their land, Justin found the next day. The gravel from the county roadbed had been largely swept away. The neighbor’s pond is up the hill from the McClain family farm and directly below the MVP Right-of-Way (ROW) – the path the pipeline follows.

It isn’t the first time such an event has occurred said Justin. “It’s an ongoing thing. This has been going on since they started construction.” He added, “These are floods that supposed to happen once in a lifetime. Now they’re happening regularly.” Indeed, Robert’s wife Ann took photos in May of this year of a similar event. Another happened in early October, 2018 and at other times as well. A neighbor also took photos the evening of Sept. 9. They capture the gravity of these events.

So on Sunday, the cleanup began – by Justin, Robert, and a neighbor. Not present to help were MVP employees, or any local or state officials. Justin shares, “We were raised not to work on Sunday. But we had to. Forty feet of the county road was washed out. The neighbor used the tractor to shovel for three to four hours and then another two hours with his backhoe. I just had to pile it up. I don’t have a dump truck to haul it. It looked awful.”

Justin explains, “We had to clean the road so that kids could be driven to the road for the school buses. We worked five more hours on Monday.” In the process, his side-by-side was damaged. “We got into some sort of muck or sediment. It caused $300 of damage to the clutch and belt to pick up the debris.” He continues, “There were loose posts. Lots of them. We found a stick that said MVP on it.”

The water flooded their front pasture, leaving rocks, debris and sediment behind. Debris littered the road and was caught in their fence. The extent of the water overflowing their pasture on Sept. 9 is captured in the two photos of the same barn, seen below. A neighbor took a photo of the flooded pasture.

The McClain family is not strangers to local, state and federal authorities as they’ve dealt with the MVP’s tactics for eight years. So, Justin and Robert McClain started calling every relevant authority that they could think of starting on Sunday. Beginning locally, they spoke with George Eidel, the Floodplain Manager and Director of the Office of Emergency Services for Doddridge County.

He visited the McClain family residence on the Monday following the Saturday rainstorm. While Justin claimed that Eidel said the MVP ROW was responsible, in an interview with me a few days later, Eidel said, two inches of rain fell and he blamed the flooding on a culvert adjacent to the county road. “This was a very, very isolated rain storm, he said.” Because the culvert is on private property (of a McClain neighbor), the MVP and the West Virginia Department of Transportation (DOT) are not responsible for cleaning or replacing the culvert said Eidel; it is the responsibility of the landowner. The culvert in question is about 20 inches in diameter. The volume of water seen in the photos by Ann McClain is far beyond what that culvert – full or empty – could be expected to handle.

Above is the top end of the culvert, and below is the bottom end that the MVP and emergency officials say caused the flash flood on Sept. 29, 2023, are both shown in the main Article.

WV DEP Inspector Timothy Wine inspected the MVP ROW on September 13 and found “no deficiencies” in the MVP Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). He also wrote in his report, “I was met on the site by Rodney Minney, Environmental Inspector for MVP, and had informed him that there were no deficiencies noted on the site. He had informed me that the area had received between 3” and 3.5” of rain in a short period of time over the weekend and the streamway of Meathouse Fork had discharged out of its bank and flooded out into fields, including flooding onto a portion of the company’s LOD located near Meathouse Fork Rd that 3.5 inches fell based on a rain gauge reading.”

Natalie Cox, spokesperson for the MVP did not return questions sent by email. J. D. Hoyle with FERC said, “I can’t respond.”

DOT workers did bring some gravel over at Justin’s urging the day he was clearing the road, and several days later, DOT had come down and graveled and graded the road towards the McClain’s driveway. DOT has since done it again.

According to Justin McClain, MVP employee Steve Randall also came by on Sept. 14 and saw that the state had fixed the road. Randall told the McClain’s that the MVP was not responsible for the flooding. No water was running off the ROW he insisted, according to Justin.

The McClain family farm is adjacent to Meathouse Fork, just downstream from the creek’s headwaters. As a consequence, a small portion of the McClain farm – the low point of the front pasture mostly – is in a floodplain according to the FEMA website. However, the property also rises nearly 500 feet in elevation. The elevation at the creek is approximately 935 feet at the front (north) end of the McClain family farm. It sits in a natural bowl below tall steep ridges that curve around their property to the east and south, with the MVP ROW surrounding them from the ridges above at 1400 feet. On the southern end of the property is a hollow that rises to a narrow, steep valley that rises that 500 feet to just below the MVP. To the east is the pond that sets above the McClain family farm.

The creek, 20 miles long, is a tributary of Middle Island Creek, which flows 77 miles to the Ohio River. Meathouse Fork did overflow its banks on the McClain farm. However, the Ann McClain photos demonstrate that the water pouring over the driveway in May is much more sediment laden, indicating it was coming from above their land – where the MVP ROW is. Also on the map, the culvert in question is not in the floodplain, but within feet of it. The sheer force of the water coming off the two hillsides and the county road next to the farm simply overwhelmed the culvert.

So, where did all that water come from?

An Independent Assessment ~>West Virginia Rivers worked to make sure that question is answered. The organization commissioned an independent assessment on behalf of the McClain family called a Surface Flow Analysis. Downstream Strategies of Morgantown conducted it. It leaves no doubt that water is channeling off of the MVP ROW onto the McClain property. The report states, in part, “Downstream Strategies completed a geospatial analysis to determine surface water flow pathways from the MVP’s limits of disturbance (LOD) in the vicinity (of the McClain family property) Results of the model demonstrate that water flows from the MVP LOD toward the … property. Flow paths predicted by the model are presented below.

Note: This is a continuation of my ongoing reporting of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and its destructive impacts upon the people and environment in West Virginia and Virginia.

>>> The flow analysis shows the flow path from the ROW onto the homeowner’s property. The MVP ROW has been denuded. So there’s more water coming off the hillside. There are no more trees there. This is lot of water with no vegetation to soak it up. ~ Program Director Autumn Crowe of WV Rivers


FLASH FLOOD WARNING (MGN), By Michael Moranelli, Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 7:40 PM

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) – A Flash Flood Warning is in effect for parts of Harrison, Lewis, Doddridge and Gilmer counties until 10:15 PM, as thunderstorms are dropping heavy rain and resulting in the potential for flash flooding. There is also a Flash Flood Warning in effect until 9:30 PM for Central Randolph County. If you see a flooded area, avoid it. Turn around, don’t drown! Be sure to stick with 5 News for more updates tonight.

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Michael Barrick December 19, 2023 at 12:30 pm

Drone Footage Reveals Long Repair of MVP Section in Northern W.Va.; Officials Defiantly Silent

Submitted by Michael Barrick, Appalachian Chronicle, December 18, 2023

BIG ISAAC, W.Va. – In the dark hours on or about November 18, a number of residents living here reported hearing a “roar.” Another resident said of the incident, “I thought it was an earthquake.”

The source of the sound was beyond question for those that heard it – the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) Right-of-Way (ROW) that forms a semicircle about 500 feet up the steep ridges around this tiny farming community.

It wasn’t long after that, said resident Justin McClain, that the MVP started rolling in equipment from all directions, even lighting up the night sky on the ridges above to address whatever happened.

While the MVP and George Eidel, Director of the Office of Emergency Services for Doddridge County have not responded to questions as to what happened on the ridge above Big Issac, drone footage taken in early December reveals an extensive repair of hundreds of yards of the MVP ROW. Read the full article here.


As always, thanks for reading and please feel free to share and post. – MB


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