The heavy rain started before daylight christened the day that would change the lives of many of the people of WV forever. One of the worst floods to hit the United States hit WV, with 8-10 inches of rain coming down in a period of 12 hours. I remember sometime in the wee hours of the morning being woken by my family with the news of the heavy rain causing talks of the Sutton Dam releasing some of its water, which would cause even more flooding especially in the nearby low lying areas. My sister had made a frantic call saying the area where she lived had been evacuated due to the rising water. She was asleep and woken by concerned neighbors who beat on her window and told her she needed to leave, the water was then waist deep in places.
As daylight hit, the rain continued to pour. It ran off the hill behind the house like a river into our yard. It began to cover the roads down in the bottom where we lived, a residential area with both houses and trailers. As the day progressed and some of the neighbors and family ventured out to see the damage, we found the roads were completely covered on both ends of Young’s Bottom. The river had crossed the road at the end blocking the road to the city of Clendenin and Jordan Creek and just above the bottom at the other end leading toward Elkview the water had crossed and completely blocked all travel.
The river had taken no time leaving its banks and massively flooding the bottom. The water was up to the top of the windows on the mobile home across the street from us at one point. We later found out that all the homes on the river side were flooded. Most were a total loss. People were losing everything they worked their whole life for. Houses that had stood for 40 plus years were completely destroyed.
I got a frantic call from my daughter who was trapped in her vehicle on the only dry place that was left in the road on Jordan Creek. She was desperately crying in a panic for help. She told me there were houses and cars floating by and the river was raging all around her and there was no way out. I called the emergency responders and they stated that there were hundreds of calls just like hers and they were doing their best but there was no way to get to them all. I told her to pray and I began to pray.
A man had offered to take her and a few others that were stranded in the back of his pickup to try to escape but the water was too deep. She told me they were going to try to climb the hillside. Thank God eventually the water receded enough that they were able to drive through it.
We later heard that a woman in a vehicle was trapped and drowned on that same road. There was at least 26 deaths in this flood. Homes, schools, businesses, and many personal belongings were destroyed. The devastation was catastrophic. The power was out for days, weeks in some places. The heat was miserable. On nearly every street and by most every home and business were huge piles of the aftermath of the flood. Broken furniture, mattresses, trash… most homes had to be completely gutted. Many were just torn down.
The town of Clendenin was almost completely under water. Two elderly ladies were trapped in a house and drowned. People were going door to door trying to get people out. My friends lost their home and vehicles when the water from the river reached nearly the top of their two story house. Another lady that I know, from another area, lost her small child in the rising water.
The Red Cross churches and volunteers from all over the United States came together to help with the clean up and to supply food and drinks to those in need. The people of WV suffered a terrible loss that day, but they came together to help one another. Tents and shelters were set up and distribution centers were organized for toiletries, cleaning supplies, food, diapers and clothing.
A year later area businesses reopened the week when the new bridge was erected. The bridge leads to the crossings mall. People were trapped at the plaza due to the road caving on the day of the flood. Many people have rebuilt, some have relocated. Things are finally starting to get back to normal, although it still makes me a little nervous when we get a hard rain.
My prayers go out to the people of Texas right now.