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White Sulphur Springs celebrates “rebirth” of town


The Register-Herald

WHITE SULPHUR SPRING, W.Va. — The town of White Sulphur Springs showed their spirits were still alive during the town’s Family Fair Saturday — a “rebirth” of the town after last year’s 1,000-year flood.

Five-year-old Hayleigh Scott signs a balloon as her mom Ashley holds it for her Saturday afternoon in White Sulphur Springs.
(Photo by Brad Davis)

While families gathered to play games, eat food and spend time together as a community, Rhonda Shay, construction coordinator for Greenbrier County’s Neighbors Loving Neighbors program, said it was a day to simply forget.

“We don’t want to remember the town the way it was a year ago,” Shay said. “We want to remember it for what we have overcome. What we have now.”

Shay said although the town is still rebuilding, they are proud of their people and all the other organizations who helped during the process.

“We still have a lot left we have to do,” Shay said. “We know that, but today is a day to have some fun to celebrate what we have achieved.”

Children were a big part of Saturday’s celebration, as they painted stones to place around Greenbrier County to bring more color to the town.

Ali Johnston, marketing director of Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, said the celebration is such a joy for all families all over West Virginia.

“We thought this would be a very therapeutic activity, especially for a day like today,” Johnston said. “We thought these rocks would be a good thing to lend to those who have suffered from last year’s flood.”

Johnston said the “rebirth” of the town is very symbolic for the community because they have been through so much together.

Hundreds of balloons were sent into the sky in remembrance of lives lost, new prayers and well wishes for the community’s upcoming year.

Cathy Rennard, of West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, said Saturday was a complete turning point for White Sulphur Springs.

“This is about getting past that first anniversary,” Rennard said. “For families who lost loved ones, it’s about them getting past that first Christmas, that first birthday; all of that is very hard.”

Rennard said she believes the town is stronger than ever and the community is committed to coming together to continue to rebuild.

“We aren’t finished yet,” Rennard said, “We still have a lot of work to do, but all of these people deserve a day like today. A day to celebrate.

“This is just the beginning,” Rennard said. “Rebuilding houses was just the first step. We still have to help rebuild lives, rebuild spirits, and rebuild our economic growth.”

Momentum continues to be brought within the town.

Rennard said she believes the new mayor, new members of city council and the community will bring White Sulphur Springs back to the gem it used to be.

As spirits were high Saturday, community members said they have not and will not stop working until they get the job done.

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