Rainelle, WV: Thousand Year Flood

Open church service after the flood in a parking lot. Credit: Around Each Bend West Virginia

My heart breaks for the people of West Virginia as they try to bounce back from historical flooding.  Rainelle, WV was hit especially hard with 18 deaths in Greenbriar County, and just about everything in the flood’s path destroyed.  Rainelle, like my hometown of Meadow Bridge, is a very small, rural community.  The population is less than 1500 with an estimated median household income of around  $27,821.  That figure is probably being quite generous.  These folks didn’t have a lot to begin with and to lose everything you own like that, is catastrophic. Some of them may never recover from this loss.

Rainelle is special to me because it was the next biggest town from my home where we did our grocery shopping each month.  Country folks don’t have the convenience of a WalMart nearby to quickly run out to when you need to pick something up. That usually requires a 120-mile round trip so you shop when you get paid or when your food assistance comes in.  What you don’t buy, you grow or send beef off to slaughter as food for the year.

We bought our groceries in Rainelle and did our shopping for school clothes there.  For us kids, it was a treat to go to Rainelle!  On our way home from shopping, my dad would stop at the Dairy Queen during the summer months when it was open, and we would get chili/slaw dogs and ice cream cones.   There was no indoor seating.  You walked up to a window and ordered and either ate in your car or sat on the picnic benches under an awning in the grassy area to the right of the parking lot.  To this day, those chili dogs smothered with coleslaw were the BEST I’ve ever had, and thinking back to the times we, as a family, sat outside enjoying our hot dogs and ice cream brings a smile to my face.

Thinking about the devastation and that everything in town is destroyed fills me with profound sadness.  Wallace & Wallace, the funeral home where all of my family have been prepared for burial for years is destroyed.  Nearly every business in the town is destroyed.  FEMA has declared it a national disaster area and is coming in to help, but how do you even rebuild from something like this?  When the news cameras and coverage has gone away, this town is still going to be struggling to recover from this years down the road…if ever.

West Virginians are proud, resilient people.  Maybe that’s where I got my tenacious spirit from.  You don’t give up — you just do what you need to in order to survive this thing called life and the hardships it tosses at us from time to time.  Rescue efforts were still underway this weekend, and supplies are coming in from all over.  One business in particular I would like to point out is Rover Made Over located in Rainelle who has been rescuing and boarding pets who were found in the flood.  They are also posting photos of pets to reunite them with their families.

I was made aware that they need dog and cat food and other supplies to keep our furry friends comfortable while the town pieces itself back together.  I placed a call to the owner to ask how I can facilitate getting them supplies, or gift cards sent to them to help out.  I’m waiting to hear back but will post info here or on my Twitter account @prinniedidit with info or you can try to message the owner on Facebook to ask how you can help.

Links:

Rover Made Over
Rainelle Lost & Found Pets

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