C&O Canal Volunteer Operations Status Update

Hello Level Walkers,

The latest status update for operations on the C&O Canal follows. This is provided by the Volunteer Manager. If you go out there please be careful.

Thanks,

Steve


Volunteers, 
The park’s Chief Ranger has given the OK to resume volunteer program operations on Friday, September 3rd. However, water levels are still rising so please avoid areas that are prone to flooding such as McMahons, Dam 4, Culvert 82, etc. For a list of current closures and park condition updates, please check the C&O Canal NHP website alerts page – 
https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
All visitors are encouraged to use caution. Even once the rain stops, conditions in the park may still change quickly. Do not attempt to cross washouts or high-water areas. Remain aware of rising water levels in the Potomac River and neighboring streams. High water may impact low areas of the park, and conditions may change unexpectedly. Be aware of possible debris on the towpath, flooding, washouts, and falling trees.

Thank you and stay safe!

Emily Durán Hewitt

Update on C&O Canal Emergency Volunteer Activity Suspension

Hello Level Walkers,

The NPS advises that at the present time volunteer activities are still suspended. Please note the following emergency guidance.

Thanks, Steve


Message from Safety Officer:


Volunteers,

As you know, the watershed for the Potomac River received a lot of rain yesterday and the Potomac River is rapidly rising.   We expect minor flooding in many sections of the park.

Please do not let the sunshine and mild conditions today reduce your situational awareness.  There are many hazards out there.

Many trees are damaged and the ground is soaked.  As a result, some trees may fail suddenly and without warning and many trees may fall over due to root ball heave.

One of the biggest dangers today will be the rapid river rise.  The Potomac River at Paw Paw rose 16 feet in less than 12 hours!!!   As you know, many sections of the towpath will flood on the upstream and downstream portions and it is very easy to become stranded due to rapidly rising waters.  The river is near crest level at Paw Paw and is expected to crest at Little Falls on Friday around 6 PM.

Please avoid using the towpath.

Thank you and be safe.

John G. Adams, CSP

Safety Officer

C&O Canal NHP Storm Conditions – 13 September 2018

The C&O Canal NHP advises that, due to the lightened forecast of hurricane Florence, volunteer duties in the Park can resume as normal. Conditions are still not optimal and there are risks that should be considered if you choose to venture out on the towpath. As always, your efforts as level walkers are purely optional and you should consider the risks you may take out there. There will be plenty of time for level walks later, when conditions improve.

Check for the most up to date conditions, closures and safety warnings at http://go.nps.gov/choh_conditions or Facebook @chesapeakeandohiocanal before venturing out.

The following guidance is provided by the park safety officer outlining some things to look out for post storm.

Falling Trees

  • Due to the extremely wet spring and summer, the ground is completely saturated and does not have its normal ability to hold tree root balls in place. As a result, large and small trees are falling over without any wind or for any other reason.
  • Avoid traveling under a tree canopy if you can.
  • Do not stop or rest under trees that are leaning. These are more prone to falling over due to ground failure.
  • Look for bulges in the ground around the base of trees. If you see a bulge, notify the park via the dispatch number 866-877-6677 or the hazard warning email CHOH_Hazards@nps.gov
  • If the wind begins to pick up, get off the towpath and away from any trees.

Towpath Travel

  • The towpath is very wet and some area may be covered with slippery mud due to recent flooding.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the section of towpath, this is not the time to explore. If you must go, take an experienced person with you. Again, if you are unsure, stay off the towpath.
  • Make sure someone is aware of your destination and is responsible for ensuring your safe return.

 

C&O Canal NHP Storm Conditions – 11 September 2018

Level Walkers,

The following message is from the C&O Canal NHP. Please heed all cautions both before, during and after the storm.  Water levels are already high. It is important that we follow their guidance because conditions can be very dangerous due to localized flooding, loose or undermined earth, or tree issues.   Your safety is more important than your work as volunteers.

As noted below, the park is the best source for information. Visit http://go.nps.gov/choh_conditions as noted below or follow the park on Facebook @chesapeakeandohiocanal.

The park will be looking for volunteers to help prepare for the storm.  Contact one of the visitor centers (contact info is on the contacts page of Along the Towpath) for local volunteer requirements. Also, if you are interested in helping prepare Lockhouse 6 for the storm on Wednesday, 9/12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., call 301-745-8888 or further information

Like you, I hope our park avoids serious damage from this storm. Be safe! The guidance from the park follows.

BT

Due to the flood impact we are expecting and experiencing, volunteers should not be on the towpath at this time. However, we can use their help at park access points providing safety messages to visitors. VIPs must report in and out to their District Volunteer Coordinator.

As of 10:00 am, September 11, 2018

Increased rainfall and rising river level in the area has caused sections of C&O Canal NHP to close. Sections of the canal and towpath may become flooded and trap visitors. Do not attempt to cross washouts or high water areas. High winds and wet soils can cause trees and branches to fall.

Volunteers must receive specific instructions from their District Volunteer Coordinator before entering the park.

All visitors encouraged to use caution; hikers and bikers are encouraged to seek alternatives.

For the most updated information, please refer to: http://go.nps.gov/choh_conditions

Flooding on the C&O Canal

Hello Level Walkers,

As you know, persistent and heavy rains have occurred frequently over the last few weeks. This has created flood conditions on parts of the C&O Canal. Floods can create a number of issues in the park, and visitors are urged to take great care in the time after this and any future floods. Towpath instability is often not immediately apparent, and sink holes or collapses can occur in the period after flood conditions. The areas around culverts and bridges can be unstable, and often streams undermine the soil around their edges. The National Park Service responds as quickly as they can to assess and repair conditions, as well as to prepare alternate trails and markers, but this effort can take a great deal of time.

There is a significant breach on Mile 52, where Culvert 82 washed out. There may be other breaches or damage when this latest flood recedes. Please pay close attention to conditions and  follow park regulations and warning signs.  No level walk or photograph is worth risking your safety for.

When planning a trip on the canal, visitors should visit the park web site http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm or visit the park Facebook site @chesapeakeandohiocanal for the most up-to-date information. The park responds quickly to questions posted on Facebook. The park is the best source of information because third party sources may post inaccurate or out-dated information. Safety hazards can be reported by calling 866-677-6677 or by using the hazard reporting system http://www.nps.gov/choh/safetyhazardsreportingsystem.htm.

The NPS has advised of the following closures until further notice:

1. All boat ramps

2. All campsites (HBOs and Drive In)

3. All lockhouses

4. All through-riders, hiking and biking

5. Harpers Ferry has closed the pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River (Access to the Towpath and Appalachian Trail).

6. Many parts of the towpath are washed out or have breaches.  Please use caution throughout the park.

7. And of course never, ever try to cross a flooded section.