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.
WOAY-TV is a family-owned television station located in Oak Hill, WV. WOAY covers nine counties in total: Fayette, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Summers, Monroe, Mercer, Wyoming, and McDowell Counties in West Virginia and Tazewell County, Virginia.