CHARMCO, W.Va. — Standing outside the local post office, residents of the small Greenbrier County town of Charmco were waiting on Friday.
Some were waiting for assistance. The National Guard was in the area assisting in Rainelle–where at least 200 people were evacuated to Ansted in the early hours of Friday morning. Others were waiting for answers–indicating their belief that not every person had been evacuated out of their homes.
They say the speed of the flash flooding deserves most of the blame. One moment, the waters seemed to be subsiding. The next minute, the town was under water.
“I guess the run-off from the hills started finally collecting in the rivers and it came up really quick,” Charmco native Shawn Robinson said.
Charmco resident Constance Reynolds, amidst a chorus of agreement, said the town had never experienced a flood quite like this.
“When the flood came on March 13, 2010, it got up around my house and everything,” she said. “But my house was one of the safe ones because it was high up on the ground. My house is gone. Everything in it is flooded.”
According to Robinson, the water level has made any attempt at making a supply run by those with a working vehicle far more difficult.
“It’s never been this high,” Robinson said. “We’ve almost always been able to clearly get back to the convenience stores and stuff to get things. We have to travel back roads to get to other towns in the mountains. It’s crazy.”
Though many expressed their concerns about the fate of the unaccounted, Robinson said at least some had been rescued on Friday.
“The fire department was down here earlier,” he said. “There was some people that were trapped up here. We had to kind of help get them out. It’s never been this bad here.”
But Robinson and the others continued to fear the worst about neighbors they hadn’t heard from–believing the death toll in the area likely to rise when they do get the answers they seek.
“A lot of the smaller roads are starting to get washed out,” Charmco native Shawn Robinson said. “I don’t know how many people were evacuated out of here this morning and last night, but this is the worst it’s been.”
The water in the town can be measured in feet–not inches. It had only moderately subsided Friday afternoon.
Flooding on Route 60 effectively shut it down from at least Rupert to Rainelle–approximately a 10-12 mile stretch of road. According to Reynolds, that effectively shut down any efforts that the local Civil Air Patrol could have made to join in rescue efforts.
At latest count, the official death toll in the state was at least 20. At least ten of the dead came from Greenbrier County.
In Rainelle, at least 200 people were successfully rescued by first responders as of Friday afternoon. The town has an approximate population of just under 1500. Rescue attempts remained ongoing Friday.
Approximately half of the reported number rescued from Rainelle are at Ansted Baptist Church in Fayette County.