Dana Stonewall Jackson Bennett
74, of Richwood



Lucealie Gillespie
82, of Hacker Valley



Marion K. “Dimples” (Prater) Gregory
67, of Cowen



Robert Spencer Hughes
90, of Mt. Nebo



Cathy Mae Lesher
54, of Nallen



Lula Belle (Simmons) Morton 76, of Franklin



Dr. John Russell Mullens
59, of Summersville



Birdie Dell (Rose) Phillips
88, of Clay



Mary Alice “Dot” Phillips
57, of Richwood



Gerald P. Simmons (Jerry)
68



Sidney E. Valentine Sr.
77, of Sebring, Fla.



Earnest Loyd White
80, of Canvas



Patti Lou Workman
60, of Craigsville



 

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Homes, schools and businesses were all overtaken by the Cherry River on Thursday, June 23, after historic flooding tore through the city of Richwood and other areas of the state.

photo by Jeromy Rose

 

Cleanup, recovery under way in

Richwood after historic flood

By Pat Hanna
The Nicholas Chronicle

As a longtime firefighter and civil engineer, Greg Boso has seen his share of natural disasters and knows what it takes to rebuild.

The Summersville resident is now a state senator and is working to make sure all government resources are available to help residents in Nicholas County affected by last week’s historic flood.

Boso visited Richwood last Thursday evening, June 23, and returned the following day to meet with Mayor Robert Johnson and tour damaged areas of the city along with Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins and Summersville Mayor Robert Shafer.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin was also in Richwood on Friday.

“To sum up everything, the word that comes to mind is ‘staggering,’” Boso said. “I don’t know in our generation that anybody has ever witnessed anything like this … the businesses that were damaged, the debris and the personal loss to individuals.

“But we’re tough in Nicholas County. We’re resilient. We have a tendency to bounce back from things like this. People are working their hearts out to make sure others are taken care of.”

No fatalities or serious injuries were reported in Nicholas County.

The chain of events started on Tuesday, June 21, when Richwood was hit with 3 inches of rain. The same day, an EF1 tornado touched down near Summit Lake, snapping or uprooting hundreds of trees.

Then, two days later, 6 more inches of rain sent the Cherry River over its banks and caused water to rush down hillsides into the narrow valley.

Concern and fear grew worse when it was reported that the dam at Summit Lake had breached. But the report was false. Water from the lake briefly overflowed the dam before receding.

Still, the damage was extensive. The amount of damage was not immediately known, but it was considerable. Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were expected to be on site at the beginning of the week to begin assessments.

In addition to the homes that were destroyed or damaged, the floodwaters damaged a number of businesses, including Rite Aid and Dollar General in the Cherry River Plaza, as well as local restaurants and other stores.

Both Richwood High School and Richwood Middle School sustained damage, as did the RHS band room and Dean Memorial Field.

City Park, Pratt Park and Dain Park all were damaged.

Water also got in the Nicholas County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Residents of the nursing home were moved to higher ground at Liberty Baptist Church when it became apparent that flooding was imminent.

 

 

 

Stories of heroism, goodwill and a community

coming together in the wake of pain, shock

By Pat Hanna
The Nicholas Chronicle

Suddenly, a lot of things didn’t seem important. Not the political debate. Not the financial turmoil. Not the sports world.

In a matter of hours, people’s lives were turned upside-down.

Outside the Richwood Go-Mart, a young woman who had escaped her nearby home wept as she clutched her dog. Both were wet and shivering.

Bystanders watched helplessly as raging waters roared down a hillside and tore apart the bottom portion of a home.

People who tried to get back through town to their homes were stopped and stuck for hours as the Cherry River escaped its banks and spread across Route 39/55, making it impassable.

Motorists who were forced to pull over watched in disbelief as the outdoor deck at Mumsey’s Iron Skillet broke apart and floated down the river, its table umbrellas still visible through trees that later fell like matchsticks.

That was the scene last Thursday, June 23, as Richwood witnessed arguably the worst flood it had ever seen, certainly the most destructive in the city since the epic 1954 flood.

But through the pain, the loss and the shock came stories of heroism, a community pulling together, and support and generosity from near and far.

As the floodwaters rose, a number of people, unable to use their vehicles, walked through the woods to reach safety or get to loved ones whose homes were threatened.

Terry Lewis of Richwood had gone to work that morning at Columbia Forest Products in Craigsville. He knew rain had been falling at an alarming rate all morning, and around noon he decided to drive back to his home on Green Street, which sits along the river.

His home was within view, but he didn’t want to risk driving through the high water and debris that had already gathered on the highway.

He tried to go up another road and get around the problem, but water was pouring down from the hillside, making it impassable as well.

He then decided to park his car and get out, and when he did, he heard a cry for help.

He went over to the house and looked in through a window. He saw an elderly man standing with the help of a walker in the middle of the living room, water almost up to his waist. The man’s wife was in another part of the house, trapped as well. The couple’s grandson, who was also in the residence, needed help to help them.

Lewis and Teddy Kyer of Richwood knocked the door in.

“They didn’t want to leave,” Lewis said. “They were worried about their dog. We picked them up and brought them out.”

The couple, their grandson and the dog made it to safety.

 

 

 

Flood damage significant to middle school

and businesses, homes, roads and bridges in area

The ferocious storm that dropped 8 to 10 inches of rain in a 12-hour period on Thursday, June 23, caused extensive damage to Summersville Middle School and a number of businesses, homes, roads and bridges in the area.

The storm made its first impact early Thursday morning around 6 a.m. when a tornado touched down in the Birch River area and sheered off the tops of hundreds of trees on a hillside.

As the rain continued, the water level on Muddlety Creek began to rise significantly. By Friday morning, it had overflowed its banks by eight to 10 feet near Summersville Middle School, located behind Nicholas County High School, causing three feet of water to spill into SMS. The water caused significant damage throughout the building.

On Thursday afternoon, a creek in the Werth area along Route 55 overflowed its banks by several feet. Route 55 was closed for several hours until Friday because of a mudslide on the road and high water at another location in that area.

Two of the harder hit areas in the Summersville area were Birch River in the northern end of the county and Belva in the western end of the county near Fayette and Clay counties.

In Birch River, water from Birch River overflowed it banks by several feet and left several homes and businesses on Old U.S. Route 19 with three to four feet of water in them. No injuries were reported.

Flooding created lots of damage in Belva when a big shot of water from heavy rains, water running off hillsides and from tributaries of the Gauley River and the Gauley River jumped its banks.

A bigger problem for those on Route 39 was a small bridge collapsing in the Swiss area.
There was also a large mudslide on Route 129 in the Keslers Cross Lanes area on Friday, which closed the road for a few days until the Department of Highways could make repairs. Traveling from Summersville to the western end of the county was difficult over the weekend.

Also, several homes and trailers on Route 39 west of Summersville had three or four feet of water in them when Peters Creek overflowed its banks. Some residents in mobile homes had to be rescued, and no injuries were reported.

A small bridge was washed out on Phillips Run Road just north of Summersville where several homes also had water in them.

Several homes were also damaged with water inside them in the Nallen area at the southern end of Nicholas County near Fayette County.

 

 

 

President declares major disaster for Nicholas County

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Saturday, June 25, that federal disaster assistance has been made available to West Virginia to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides beginning on June 22 and continuing.

President Obama’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Nicholas, Greenbrier and Kanawha counties.  Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.    

The president’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in the three counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Albert Lewis has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Lewis said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

 

 

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