West Virginia still impacted by June 2016 flood 8 years later

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This weekend marks the 8th anniversary of one of West Virginia’s darkest days, the June 2016 flood.

Training thunderstorms entered the state south of Parkersburg on June 23, 2016 and made a diagonal line across the state into Greenbrier County. Along the way, the deluge pushed creeks and eventually rivers out of their banks and into people’s property.

Within hours the flood carried off thousands of homes and business. In it’s path were the communities of Clay, Clendenin, and Elkview along the Elk River. Parts of Nicholas County in the area of the Gauley and Cherry Rivers saw homes, businesses, schools, and roads washed away. The town of Richwood was heavily damaged along with communities all along the streams. The storm finally exited the state after taking one final swipe at the streams of Greenbrier County and destroyed hundreds of structures in areas like Rainelle and White Sulphur Springs.

One of the many flooded homes in the Clendenin area in the aftermath of the June 23, 2016 high water event.

The storm claimed 23 lives, 15 of those victims were in Greenbrier County.

The historical flood set records with 7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period in the community of Runa in Nicholas County. The Gauley River at Craigsville crested at an all time high of 29.04 feet, which was a full three feet above the old record crest.

An estimated half million people were initially without power, and thousands of buildings all across the state were either damaged or destroyed, leaving many displaced. The final damage estimate from the storm was $1.2 billion.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito issued statements on the flood anniversary.

“Every June 23rd, our hearts are heavy with the memory of the precious lives lost in the floods that ravaged southern West Virginia eight years ago. Gayle and I continue to pray for the families whose lives were forever changed by the loss of a loved one. While I am proud to have secured over $256 million above and beyond normal federal disaster funding to rebuild and make our communities more resilient to extreme weather, no amount of funding can replace what was lost that day. In the aftermath of the flood, West Virginians showed our true colors by coming together—as only we can—to support one another. It has been the honor of my lifetime to represent such a strong, resilient state with amazing people who care for their communities and fellow West Virginians so deeply.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin
“The 2016 floods impacted thousands of West Virginians, took 23 precious lives, destroyed schools, forced businesses to close, and left many families without homes. Eight years later, we continue to rebuild together. Out of this tragedy, we saw our West Virginia spirit come alive, and people from every corner of our state rushed to impacted areas to lend a helping hand. That is what West Virginia is all about, and that is what separates our state from anywhere else in the world. I ask that West Virginians keep this spirit alive and continue to display the compassion and resiliency that defines us.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore-Capito

 

Among those damaged buildings were 25 West Virginia schools. Herbert Hoover High School, Clendenin Elementary, Richwood High School, Richwood Middle School and Summersville Middle School were destroyed.

After eight years, only one new school has opened. Students at new Herbert Hoover High School just completed their first full year in their new building. A new Clendenin Elementary will open this fall. However in Nicholas County, ever since the flood a myriad of other problems have slowed the recovery. Soaring construction costs, supply chain issues created during covid, interest rates, and bickering over the best solution to the loss have all delayed plans for replacement schools to be built.

The new Herbert Hoover High School recently finished its first school year in operation. PHOTO: Kat Skeldon

Most individuals who incurred loses have made new arrangements for living, rebuilt their homes, or at least repaired the damages. But the scars left by the historical flood will never be completely erased for those who lived through it.

 





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