By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
Since the devastation of the July 8, 2001, flood, numerous actions have been filed in southern West Virginia courts, according to Wyoming County Circuit Judge Warren McGraw.
He served on the state’s Mass Litigation Panel, which decided many of the cases.
It has taken several years for the lawsuits to be completed, McGraw said.
With the actions finally concluded, a significant amount of money remained, he explained to representatives of several fire departments from across the county.
Wyoming County’s portion was $11,790.56, which was distributed among the county’s volunteer fire departments.
The monies recognize the contributions of the people who bear the brunt of standing on the front lines — the first responders — during emergencies, McGraw told the firemen.
He presented checks to Brenton, Coal Mountain, Cyclone, Hanover, Mullens, Oceana, Upper Laurel and the Wyoming County Fire Company in Pineville.
“This concludes the business of the 2001 flood,” McGraw said.
Southern West Virginia was hit with a series of floods in 2001, the most damaging on Sunday, July 8, when 11 inches of rain fell in four hours. At the time it was termed the worst, and most expensive, disaster in state history.
On that fateful Sunday, water literally came from everywhere, from overflowing creeks and streams, down mountainsides and, in some instances it seemed to blow from underground mines, victims recalled.
Of the 22-county region declared a federal disaster area over the spring and summer, Wyoming County was the hardest hit.
One-third — more than 3,000 — of the victims in the disaster region applying for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were in Wyoming County.
Nearly 1,000 people were left homeless in the county immediately following the disaster.
With the exceptions of Hanover, Huff Creek and Kopperston, every community in the county was hit.
Every road in the county was closed for at least a portion of that day.
McGraw was returning home that Sunday and assisted with cutting trees from the road on Saulsville Mountain, he recalled. He still couldn’t get home that day.
It was several months before the total amount of destruction could be determined and several years before the county completely recovered.
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