Local raft guides pitch in for flood rescues

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Earlier this week, areas of Oak Hill and much of Minden was underwater, prompting evacuations and several rescue efforts.
Raft guide Stephen Reid said he knows some Minden residents who told him some residents needed help.
“He started from his house with his own personal raft and he came from the other side of Minden,” said ACE raft guide Kelsey Beverage, who also helped with rescues. “We started from ACE property and came from this side of Minden.”
Within 30 minutes, Reid had called ACE Adventures and ACE contacted over a dozen other guides and offered equipment to help with the rescue. Joining them on the water was the Oak Hill Fire Department and even a local man with a john boat.
“The folks down there are so resilient,” said Reid. “There was a gentleman out there, Mr. Duncan I think it was. He was out there with his john boat helping people rowing along.”
Rescuers encountered high water contaminated with sewerage and PCB along with strong currents.

“We train for this sort of thing,” said Reid. “We are professional guides, it’s what we do. I’ve been a swift water rescue instructor for 20 years… We have the gear, we have the equipment, we have the experience and knowledge in fast moving water.”

Beverage said the most heartbreaking part of the experience was helping those who couldn’t get to their homes to check on potentially trapped loved ones.

“We show up with this bus full of raft guides and gear and they kind of looked at us like ‘I can’t get there, are you going?'” said Beverage. “Just seeing the emotion of them not being able to get to their homes, that was the most worrisome for me.”

Luckily, all Minden residents survived with only seven reportedly rescued from the flooding.
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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.