- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

MULLENS, W.Va. — Hundreds of Virginians and West Virginians fled to higher ground as a torrential downpour triggered flooding and mudslides in the area for the third time in a month. Two persons were killed.
"We came out with just the clothes on our backs," Tyrone Pollard of Kistler, W.Va., said after he and his family were evacuated Sunday. "If it wasn't breathing, we left it behind."
West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise canceled his plans yesterday and headed south to areas hit by the flooding. The state had more than 1,400 National Guard members working on flood relief.
"This is more than just another gusher," Mr. Wise said as he visited Boone County yesterday. "Anytime people's lives are affected, we have to do everything we can to help."
He asked that a federal disaster declaration, already issued to 22 counties because of the earlier floods, be extended to two more counties.
Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III declared a state of emergency for several counties in Southwest Virginia and activated more than 100 National Guardsmen.
The body of 3-year-old Brian Douglas Bishop was recovered from the Tug Fork River just outside Davy, W.Va. The boy had been playing outside of his home and was swept into a drainage culvert, a sheriff's investigator said.
In Southwest Virginia, a 77-year-old man was killed Sunday when his mobile home was washed away by a flash flood.
Authorities were still assessing the damage. "It's in the millions. I don't know how many yet, but it's in the millions," said Dan Marston of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Up to 5 inches of rain fell on already waterlogged hillsides, but the flooding and mudslides were not as severe as the ones that devastated parts of the area July 8. This time, though, a wider area was affected.
Widespread evacuations were ordered in Logan County, south of Charleston, W.Va., along Buffalo Creek, the site of a 1972 flood caused by the collapse of a coal mine waste dam. That dam failure released a wall of water that wiped out 11 communities and killed 125 persons.
Most Buffalo Creek residents were back in their homes yesterday.
"What we are faced with is a lot of damage," said the director of Logan County emergency services. Wells in the Buffalo Creek valley were contaminated, a water line was washed away and culverts were washed out. The National Guard brought in 1,000 gallons of water yesterday morning.
Scattered power outages were reported across southern West Virginia and more than 7,000 utility customers were warned to boil their drinking water.
The Red Cross had 16 shelters open in 11 West Virginia counties.
In the Fayette County town of Columbia, Ida Igo grabbed her dog and a prepacked bag when she got the call to evacuate.
"I've had this bag packed for three weeks now. I come and go. If it rains a little bit, I head over to my brother-in-law's house," she said, pausing to correct herself. "Or to the church. That's where they're living at because they have no home."
Farther east, 13 persons were rescued by helicopter from an island in the Cheat River in Preston County after rising water cut off their path to shore.
Flooding in Virginia prompted the evacuation of more than two dozen people in Scott County, located on the Tennessee state line.
The rain hit many of the same areas of Virginia and West Virginia that were trying to recover from the July 8 floods, which killed two persons, destroyed 1,500 homes and damaged about 4,000 more.
A second round of heavy rain struck last week, flooding homes in seven counties on Thursday.
Before Sunday's flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had estimated recovery efforts would cost about $180 million in West Virginia.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide