Costa residents were also threatened by rising waters. The old Costa IGA store was quickly surrounded by these waters, which also closed the road that goes by the structure. Residents at nearby Ashford were startled to wake up Sunday morning with floodwaters breaching the banks of the Big Coal River. According to data of the USGS river gage at Ashford, the Big Coal River crested at 25.68 feet at 6:30 PM on Sunday evening. Normal river level there is around 3 feet. At its highest point the water was 2.73 feet from the bottom of the Ashford Bridge.
According to historical records, the river reached a maximum height of 25.95 feet at Ashford on November 19, 2003, which was the biggest flood since the gage measured 26.05 feet on January 26, 1978. On March 7, 1967 the water was at 27 feet. Based upon government records going back to 1909 there has been only once that the gage measured higher than 27 feet. On August 5, 1916 the gage recorded a level of 35.66 feet. That’s 10 feet higher than the water got this time.
First responders at the Van and Wharton Volunteer Fire Departments were also on guard for rising waters and the risk of trapped residents. Numerous roads in that area were blocked during the storm, and one mudslide temporarily blocked the road at Cazy. Danville volunteers firefighters and city police helped with rescue operations. The lower end of Danville was especially hard hit, with waters intruding into numerous homes and businesses adjacent to the riverbank on Phipps Avenue. At one point on Sunday afternoon, water was three feet deep on Park Avenue, just past the Park Avenue Restaurant and Motel.
Around 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon, floodwaters flowing down creeks adjacent to the U.S. 119 Northbound exit to Danville came over the road, just across from Tileworks. The waters closed off access to the Lick Creek area, briefly stranding residents and patients at the Boone Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. In Madison, officials were kept busy with a multitude of emergencies. Old River Road became a lake early Sunday morning, with some residents near the Exxon Station being forced to evacuate to higher ground. The Madison Volunteer Fire Department, along with members of the Swift Water Rescue Team began to extract stranded homeowners on Lincoln Avenue.
Many of these victims sheltered briefly at the Madison Civic Center. With help from the American Red Cross, city officials opened the building to them, providing a hot meal and a dry place to rest. City employee Jesse Marcum, along with his wife, opened the building and stayed with Red Cross officials until late that evening, when they felt safe in closing the structure.
Water rose quickly under Madison bridges, closing access to the Madison City Park, and submerging the little league ball field. Hudson’s Bar and Grill was submerged in water from runoff coming down Ruckers Street. The former location of Mac’s Cycle was also invaded by waters from the Little Coal River. Madison City employees needing access to the city garage, which was blocked by knee-deep rising waters, were helped by an unusual source, a group of young men who had begun to row up and down Riverside Drive in their Kayaks. Madison Mayor Sonny Howell said one young man was able to make his way into the back of the building and retrieve the keys to the vehicles, allowing workers to move a backhoe, needed to help clean out drains.
“That young man was a great help to us, and I’d like to thank him on behalf of the city,” Howell told CVN. The mayor wanted to thank a large number of people who he said made this crisis manageable. “The Madison Volunteer Fire Department was great,” Howell said. “There are not enough good things that I can say about them. Jim Lambert, Chuck Runyon and John Adams, along with the rest of the firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty last weekend.”
Howell also wanted to thank the Madison Police Department, along with city crews. “The police were out all night and all day, checking on people and helping the rescuers. They did a great job. Also, the city workers who came out and helped with cleaning out culverts and other things made everyone’s jobs easier.” He pointed out the achievements of City Councilman Roger Weaver, who, he said, helped crews close flooded roads, and used excavating equipment to move debris and clean out clogged storm drains.
“Roger is just a diamond in the rough,” Howell noted. “He’s a councilman, and doesn’t have to do what he does, but that guy has so much dedication, and determination to see Madison prosper, that he is right out there, seeing that things get done right the first time.”