“It was horrible. We were crying and talking to each other as if we were never going to speak to each other again,” Andrea Anderson told us, remembering that night.
It’s been a year since massive flooding swept across most of West Virginia. Within a tragic 30-hour period, 23 lives were lost and thousands of homes were destroyed.
And while there are stories of terror from that day, most of the stories end in hope.
Like Andrea’s…her husband left their house with nothing but a row boat and a flashlight, and was determined to save her mother.
“Eventually mom did see a light and she heard him calling for her, and I don’t want that felt like for her or any of them. Just unbelievable, surreal, unreal.”
It did feel surreal for her mother, who said all she kept thinking about- the days following that night, was a painting she had had inside her home.
“Because it was of Christ, on a rock, with his arms around a cross that was made out of a rock. He was reaching down to a female person lifting them out of the water. So I know how I was rescued,” said Kate Carter Anderson.
It’s very difficult for Kate, and many others, to talk about the devastating moments she experienced that night, but there is one common theme when talking to any survivor of the June 2016 floods… it had never been this bad before and it was definitely not expected.
As residents continue to rebuild their homes and their lives, many flood victims – like the Anderson family – believe that instead of just remembering and replacing everything that was lost during the flood, we should be focusing on ways we can improve our communities so that West Virginia never has to see something happen like this again.
Over the last year, Rainelle and communities across West Virginia have been working hard on improving emergency management, building strong, new homes, and bringing broadband access to every resident in the state.
The mayor of Rainelle, Andrea Pendleton, said, “We just have to be patient and courageous and keep moving, but I think people feel good about the future about Rainelle.”
And that’s exactly what residents plan to do – look forward to the future.