WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Just driving into and through White Sulphur Springs makes it immediately apparent that help is available for flood victims, and it’s plentiful.
The road past The Greenbrier resort and into the small town backs up for miles as cars traverse partially collapsed roads, single-vehicle bridges, and caravans of Army National Guard troops cleaning debris from the streets.
It’s a polarizing view from what we saw in Rainelle. Cars are everywhere, and traffic is moving through the town. Stoplights remain functional, and a lot of the buildings in White Sulphur Springs remain unharmed or are largely salvageable.
It doesn’t take long, however, to reach water’s edge where entire homes have been lost, people were swept away, and crews work tirelessly to empty homes of families’ possessions — just a street from seemingly safe sections of town.
I followed gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, as I saw him making his way across the bridge toward devastation. Navigating between the guts of emptied homes on a golf cart, he was stopped frequently and given hugs from presumed locals.
It was announced yesterday that the annual PGA Tour stop at The Greenbrier, The Greenbrier Classic, would be canceled due to the flooding, and that efforts needed to be turned elsewhere.
One can assume that The Greenbrier’s efforts turned mostly to its surrounding home where employees were passing out warm meals to those emptying their homes, and the various groups assisting in that effort.
Justice finally outran me on his golf cart, and the most disturbing image I’ve come across found me around a corner.
Between two homes, both damaged but standing, is an empty lot housing only mud, dead fish, remnants of a water system, and a memorial.
Nestled between flowers and crosses of remembrance is a small stuffed bear. Once you notice that small, stuffed symbol of loss, it doesn’t take long to imagine who exactly was lost at this site, and the tears begin to flow.