Heads are rolling and blame is being spread because West Virginia's rain guage system has fallen apart again.

Calhoun County has at least four rain guages along the Little Kanawha and the West Fork of the Little Kanawha.

River guages failed to warn downstream residents during the 1000 year flood of 1985 and concentrated efforts were made to correct the problem.

Rainfall gauges are used by the weather service to predict flooding and provide warnings to residents downstream.

Fast forward 20 years.

Last month only 60% of the state's 260 rain guages along the waterways were functioning.

After heavy rain fell on West Virginia's coalfields during the Memorial Day weekend, all four of the rainfall gauges in Wyoming County were broken.

Weather forecasters had to use other predictors and they didn't work very well.

The Charleston Daily Mail reported that U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans, whose agency oversees the National Weather Service, said last month that the federal government provided the state with money for the system, but the state spent the money on other things.

Steve Kappa, state director of emergency services,said the state Legislature has been providing $390,000 annually for the program during the last four or five years and the National Weather Service provides about $125,000.

Kappa says the Office of Emergency Services does not get to decide how some of that money is spent. He says $200,000 of the state money must go to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Kappa said the guage problem is related to a lack of manpower. He demoted Calhoun resident George Settles, the program supervisor.

Settles received a letter from Kappa stating "You have failed to use available state and federal funds to hire sufficient contract personnel to quickly complete routine maintenance."

Settles replied to Kappa that the state is prohibited from using federal program funds to hire contract labor and the program did not have any field staff for several months.

Settles wrote, "It is extremely frustrating to be a program manager and to be completely powerless to make the necessary changes for the good of the program."

Settles has filed a grievance with a hearing scheduled next month.

Kappa produced a list of problems that have fallen on the rain guage system and is now moving ahead to hire contract workers among other changes.

"I am confident, based on our increased manning and emphasis by the new supervisor, we're going to re-establish the system to where it previously was while at the same time improving its reliability," said Kappa.