Major flooding in Minden prompts evacuations and health concerns for residents

MINDEN, WV (WOAY) – The Oak Hill area experienced severe flooding on Sunday as the small community of Minden got the worst of it.

Because it is also an EPA Superfund Site, due to decades of PCB contamination, that makes the emergency all the more dire. 

The aftermath of Sunday’s flood brought closed roads, closed bridges, and ruined homes filled with water, mud, and even sewer.

But what adds to the devastation for the people in Minden is what is presumed to be in that water and mud.

Just recently the EPA tested an area where the water ran through and it had 260 ppm of PCBs from old mining and equipment sites. This toxin has been linked to cancer. 

“And it’s coming out of the mines like it is a creek out of the mines,” One resident, Susie Worley-Jenkins, said. “And all of that’s got PCBs in there. All of that is washing down into people’s yards. There’s sand in people’s yards down there. There’s no sand. There ain’t no darn beach around here nowhere.” 

Minden recently became part of Oak Hill through annexation. Many residents have called on the city to fix the drainage issue as Minden is considered one of the biggest flood zones in the area as it sits downhill from the plateau.

However, Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hannabass says the drainage issue does not fall on the city. 

“We spent millions of dollars on a sewer project. Sewer project, not drainage,” he said. “The City of Oak Hill provides drainage for city property and most of that city property is city streets. Streets and roads in Minden are state-maintained. The City of Oak Hill owns no culverts in Minden.” 

On Sunday night, seven people had to be rescued by boat from Minden.

Many compared it to the 2001 floods the community experienced, so now residents are worried about the health implications that this flood will have later on down the line as they continue to hope for relocation. 

“Fifteen, eighteen years from now, we’re going to deal with the same situation. Who is going to get cancer? Who is going to die? It seems like they just need to buy these people out man, the people that need out. It’s just sad,” Darrell Thomas, one resident, said. 

“They’re going to test all over again and we’re going to go through two or three more years instead of getting these people out of here like they deserve,” Worley-Jenkins added. 

The Fayette County Office of Emergency Management says it is working with local and state partners to assist residents in cleaning and damage assessments.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.