Walking through Rainelle: “A Town Built to Carry On”

RAINELLE, W.Va. — “A Town Built to Carry On” is the first thing you see when traveling to or through West Virginia’s Rainelle. It’s the town’s slogan, and it’s a powerful one. It’s tough to say that people can “carry on” when they’ve been displaced by some of the worst flooding in West Virginia history, but in Rainelle, at least some of the residents are.

Terry Cordial has lived in her Rainelle home for eight years. Like a lot of the town, her family’s choice was tied to having previously worked in now bankrupted and abandoned coal mines.

“This was my husband’s family home for twenty-some years,” said Cordial. “Water has gotten to the porch, but never inside the house. It come fast, I just couldn’t believe it,” she went on, gesturing above her waist where the water rose to on the family home’s first floor.

The Cordials felt lucky. They were able to save a lot of the things they care about. Their animals are safe — even if two of three dogs had to be surrendered to a rescue team for their safety, their high value items were moved to the highest room in the house — they’re safe, and the family is safe.

“We’re just happy we have our lives, it’s more than others have.”

She went on to describe how people had lost their loved ones in Rainelle, “even during the rescue attempt, they were taken by the water.”

“My neighbors, they’re mostly elderly and disabled. If you hear that any of them need help, please let me know if I can help them,” she said while piling her possessions, now in black Hefty bags to be removed like the weekly trash.

Cordial’s family fleet of four vehicles was left totaled by the floods, like most of Rainelle’s automobiles, so I offered to leave her with some of the cases of water brought from Morgantown to help.

“I have two cases,” said Cordial.

“We don’t want more than we need in this moment. We’ll get it if we need it, but there are others who need it more than we do.”

It’s tough for West Virginia to stay positive this week, but Rainelle, among the most damaged from the flooding, remains positive.

Against all odds, Terry Cordial and her family will stay, and they will rebuild what they’ve lost. It’s their home, and they will carry on — Rainelle will carry on.

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