Last Week’s Major ‘Flood Event’ Results In Pocomoke River Advisory

SNOW HILL – Worcester County officials spent much of the week assessing damage from the unusual amount of rainfall experienced during the final days of September.

On Tuesday, standing water remained on several area roadways, forcing closures. County officials continued to monitor the Pocomoke River following a combined sewer overflow that occurred in Snow Hill during Friday’s prolonged periods of heavy rainfall.

“It’s definitely a significant flood event,” said James Hamilton, the county’s assistant director of emergency services, “possibly a historic flood event.”

Hamilton said that during the heaviest period, close to eight inches of rain fell within a few hours in the Snow Hill area. Continued rainfall through the early part of the weekend led to ponding on roads, standing water and overflows of the Pocomoke River.

“In the last five days there have been some long days for county departments,” Hamilton said.

Snow Hill was hit hard, experiencing flooding throughout the town. Two feet of water covered Market Street, while Route 12 in front of Down Under Subs and Pizza was immersed in three and a half feet of water. The water damaged several areas of Route 12. On Tuesday the busy road remained closed at the drawbridge and near the Village of Nassawango. The latter section will be closed for roughly three weeks as the State Highway Administration arranges repairs.

“It will require an outside contractor to make those repairs,” Hamilton said.

He praised Worcester County’s public works and wastewater departments for their efforts during the rain event.

“The commitment is there and will continue to be there in our department,” said John Tustin, the county’s director of public works.

Worcester County Emergency Services Director Fred Webster said that in spite of the amount of flooding that occurred local property owners hadn’t reported any major damage.

“That says a lot for their preparedness,” he said.

The significant amount of rainfall that took place Thursday and Friday did result in a sewer overflow in Snow Hill. On Friday residents were advised to avoid contact with the Pocomoke River because of potential contaminants. The town reported to the state that a combined sewer overflow—an overflow from a sewer system that also collects rainwater—of 10,000 gallons from the Snow Hill treatment plant had taken place.

“It was a fraction of the 10,000 gallons that was raw sewer,” said Bob Mitchell, the county’s head of environmental programs. “Most of it was stormwater.”

The county lifted the river advisory on Wednesday. According to officials the high volume of water contributed to the rapid dilution of the stormwater-sewage overflow. The public is still advised to use caution near the river as it still has a higher-than-normal streamflow and contains mobile debris.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.