The famed Greenbrier Resort has nearly erased the signs of the devastating flood from one year ago. The Old White course has been completely rebuilt and Howard’s Creek, which was a muddy and debris-filled torrent last June 23rd, is once again a peaceful stream meandering among the holes.
Just a mile from here in the town of White Sulphur Springs, there is still evidence of the power of the raging floodwaters. Along Howard’s Creek there are now empty foundations where houses once stood.
However, not far from the devastated community you will find Hope… Hope Village to be precise. Local businessman Tom Crabtree says the idea for what would become Hope Village began to emerge even before the floodwaters receded. (See more here about Hope Village.)
“We needed to create a new neighborhood,” he said. “These people may not be able to move back… they may not want to move back.”
First, they needed land. White Sulphur Springs Town Council donated just over eight acres on higher ground about a mile from downtown. Then they needed money. The contributions rolled in and to date the Homes for White Sulphur Springs project has raised over $2.8 million.
And finally they needed volunteers to build the new homes. That’s when the Mennonite Disaster Services showed up. The faith-based volunteer organization specializes in helping communities recover and rebuild after natural disasters. They agreed to take on the White Sulphur project.
What followed was a remarkable volunteer effort to prepare the land for construction, install water and sewer lines and build new homes. The first home was open less than five months after the flood. About two dozen are already finished and people have moved in.
Families who live in the flood plain can trade their property to the Greenbrier Valley Foundation. The value of the property is put toward a new home in Hope Village. All the traded property will eventually be turned into a community park.
The homes are modest—900 to 1,200 square feet—and there are also one bedroom villas, but they are new and well-built. Eventually 42 homes will make up Hope Village.
Crabtree said they were not satisfied with just building houses, they wanted to create a neighborhood, which he believes they have done.
Earlier this week on Talkline I asked Governor Jim Justice, the owner of the Greenbrier, if one year ago he could have imagined having the golf tournament one year later. His answer came immediately—yes, of course, adding that he could have been ready last fall.
This week the PGA Tour is back, and CBS Sports will have the golf course and West Virginia’s famed resort on display.
The 2016 flood was heartbreaking, but out of adversity came strength and that strength produced hope, and that hope in White Sulphur Springs was strong enough to inspire the reconstruction of a community and a championship golf course.