LEWISBURG, W.Va. — “We are in trouble. People are going to die here.”
That’s what Greenbrier County Commissioner Mike McClung said he heard when he answered the telephone late Thursday night last week and found a caller from Rainelle on the line, begging to be rescued from rapidly rising floodwaters.
Ascertaining that Greenbrier County first responders were blocked by deep water across the roadway and couldn’t possibly reach Rainelle in time, McClung said he reached out in desperation to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s regional representative, Kimberly Gross, for help.
And although he hasn’t been able to confirm that it was Gross who mobilized them, McClung said “several school buses” and Fayette County Sheriff’s Office personnel made their way into Rainelle over a back road that hadn’t yet flooded and evacuated the unstable, water-surrounded building from which the call originated, saving all of the inhabitants.
“Everyone has a story to tell,” McClung said, as he related the chilling tale at Tuesday evening’s commission meeting.
Commissioner Woody Hanna commented, “I believe this flood has affected everyone in Greenbrier County in some manner — some more than others.”
Earlier in the meeting, McClung had called on Emergency Services director Al Whitaker for a status report as the flood-ravaged county begins to move from crisis into recovery.
“It’s a very slow process,” a visibly exhausted Whitaker said. “It’s just overwhelming…