Monday, November 05, 2007

1985 Flood, Pocahontas County

Friel house hitting the Marlinton bridge, 1985

Checking the November entries in On This Day in West Virginia History, I noticed that this is the anniversary of the 1985 flood. The West Virginia Archives and History note that on November 7, Ronald Reagan declared seven West Virginia counties federal disaster areas, and they quote the Pendleton Times report of November 14 on the destructive flooding in that county. A more detailed, county-by-county account of the flood is available in the 1985 book Killing Waters: The Great West Virginia Flood of 1985, compiled and edited by Bob Teets and Shelby Young.

These days, the Greenbrier River is lower than I've ever seen it at the bridge in Marlinton. It's hard to comprehend this photograph, captioned:

MARLINTON--A house swept along the rain-swollen Greenbrier River slams into the West Virginia Route 39 bridge at Marlinton as streams in much of the state reached flood stage after several days of rain. The Pocahontas County community was among dozens in West Virginia hit by the worst flooding in a century.

Rivers rose quickly on November 4, and many Pocahontas County homes, roads, and businesses were flooded by November 5. The Pocahontas Times office preserves it's 1985 high water mark (above eye level), but they managed to publish a November 7 edition detailing damages, including this:

For years reports on flooding possibilities in Marlinton have been described in federal agency language by what is known as the "100 Year Flood." On Monday citizens in Pocahontas County found out what the effect of such a flood would have on the County and the results are truly tragic--four dead, the Town of Marlinton almost totally devastated, a portion of Cass heavily damaged, three Greenbrier River bridges washed away, and other sections of the County damaged.

The heavy rains that caused the flooding in Pocahontas County also caused widespread flooding over much of West Virginia, as well as other states. Record flood levels were reported on the Greenbrier, West Fork, Cheat, Tygart, and Little Kanawha Rivers.

Four people are known dead in the County due to the flooding and authorities are not sure of the location of several others....


Anonymous said...

I was in the flood of 1985 and just looled at all my pics. It was a tramatic event. I was in Lead Mine and Davis. There was nothing left.Be I even watch and measure rain water,If it ever rains for 3 weeks...start getting out of the way. Bless yall and thanku

Levi Reitmire said...

I was a soldier and drove a 818 tractor trailer tryin to help you all....the images still haunt me today...GOD Bless

Levi Reitmire said...

I was a soldier there in an 818 tractor trailer i made this video to find some peace with it