Monday, June 26, 2006

Flood of 1985

All of the heavy rain that we've been receiving in the mountains the past three days takes me back to a time 20.5 years ago when the Central Appalachians saw some of the worst flooding in its recorded history due to the remains of Hurricane Juan stalling out over the mountains. On November 4, 1985, areas in Highland County, Va. and Pendleton County, WV. received close to 22" of rain, all in one day. For an area with ridge and valley topography, the rain storm amounted to God filling up his ice trays under the kitchen sink faucet. Mountains were turned to a muddy and rocky soup, sending boulders the size of cars "floating" down into the valleys below. Bridges connecting communities were wiped out, that is if the communities weren't wiped out completely, so sending help from one area to the next was nearly impossible. Amazingly, only sixteen people lost their lives in Pendleton County. Had such a rain event taken place near anywhere other than two of the most sparsely populated areas in Virginia and West Virginia, the history of this flood would have Biblical comparisons. I remember touring the area near Seneca Rocks about 12 years after the flood and you can still see structural damage and debris from the mountains scattered throughout the valley. The Army Corps of Engineers has taken bulldozers up and down the creekbed, widening the river channel to give water more room to flow and spread out if and when the river floods again.

I've linked an article from WV media archives of the storm below. Unfortunately, the e-archives of this storm are not as complete as they probably should be, due to the magnitude of the storm, but it will give you more of a first hand account to this day.

West Virginia Archives and Culture

Night of Raging Waters

1 comment:

the Contrary Goddess said...

The one I remember is the flood of '77.