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Sportsman preps for Florence

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

A wise business person keeps in the know as part of their preparation for a worst case scenario. This is especially true when one’s business lies along the bank of the New River and it seems likely that a major hurricane is soon set to dump several inches of water, potentially causing the river to rise.

The Sportsman, an RV campground with an accompanying store, is located on Little River Road, just upstream from where Interstate 81 crosses the New River.

“We can get the flow schedules from Little River and from the Claytor Dam, which gives me a pretty good idea of what it’s going to do,” said Phil Mosser, owner of the Sportsman. “They even call us sometimes. If they’re going to open their floodgates a certain amount, they will call us and tell us, ‘Hey, we’re opening up to 75 percent’ just to let us know we’re going to get more water here. We’re online so we can see the flow rates and we can see the river level from here.”

According to Mosser, there are currently 25 RV’s and trailers currently staying at his campground. “We sent a notice to all of our campers here to pick up anything on the ground that could blow or float away and to be prepared. If the water does get high. We’ll pull all the trailers out of here. I’ve been checking the dam schedule and I know they’ve drained the lake quite a bit.”

As of this writing, Claytor Lake had been drawn down five feet in expectation of heavy rains produced by Hurricane Florence.

“If it does flood, it will start at the other end of the campground and we’ll start moving trailers out,” said Mosser. “Other than that, there’s not much. That’s why we’re an RV Park, so we can move out if there’s a flood. That’s what FEMA prefers on flood plains, moveable mobile housing.”

The store which services the campground looks to be made of wood but is actually made from concrete block with a foundation 20 feet above the average surface of the river. Mosser does not appear to be overly concerned about his building flooding. “The foundation of the building is 1,750 and the river is 1730 (above sea level). The bottom floor is concrete with tile over it, so if we lose power, we’ll just put the ice cream in coolers. I know in 2013 the river got to 21 feet. That’s the highest the river has been since the early 2000s. Here, it didn’t get that high because there are other creeks flowing into the river between here and Radford. It never came in the building. If worse comes to worse, we may have some damage but the building isn’t going to float away.”

Other items that should not be floating away are the propane tanks that are rented to campers, as they are secured in a locked cage.

“We feel pretty good here,” said Mosser. “People at the dam said it would take some kind of storm to stall right over this drainage and drop a couple of feet of water for us to flood. That could possibly happen. This is the first time I ever heard of that being a possibility according to the models.”

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