Kathy Bostic sits on a torn roof Friday afternoon as she looks through a muddied plastic tote full of family photographs that she rescued from her home along Jordan Creek Road in Elkview. The totes were sitting in her house as heavy rainfall and flooding hit the Elkview area on Thursday. “Everything else can be replaced,” Bostic said. “Lives can’t and pictures can’t.” See a video at wvgazettemail.com. Photo Credit: Sam Owens | Gazette-Mail photos
By: Daniel Desrochers | Posted: June 24, 2016 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail
Kathy Bostic’s photographs were spread across the roof of her house, which is now where her walkway should have been.
She moved in and out of her house, which had been destroyed by flooding in Jordan Creek, trying to get to her pictures and important papers to see what she could save.
“Everything else can be replaced,” Bostic said. “Lives can’t and pictures can’t.”
After severe flooding devastated all of West Virginia, the state announced Friday that 22 people had died from the weather. But there was no number yet on just how many people have lost everything they owned.
When Bostic thought of the pictures she lost, she cried. When her friends came up to see how she was doing, or when she looked at old photos, she laughed. Mostly she kept busy.
“You’ve just got to laugh, Kathy,” her friend Nancy Meadows said, “or you’ll never get through this.”
Meadows house was on higher ground and hadn’t seen as much damage.
Shortly after hugging Meadows and friends Mildred Hayes and Lula Allen, Bostic was back crouching on the roof, looking at the pictures and remembering.
She saw pictures of when her son Michael, who was in the 82nd Airborne Infantry, returned home around his 19th birthday and they took him to Hooters.
She saw pictures of Michael when he was just learning to walk. She saw a picture of her niece.
The pictures were wet and muddied, but they were still there.
“I always say that if there’s a fire in the house, I’d take the picture totes,” Bostic said.
Bostic had plastic bins full of photos, spanning back decades.
“I thought the totes would save them,” Bostic said.
Instead, floodwaters rose into her house and washed the totes into the kitchen.
“I was a picture freak,” Bostic said.
“My grandkids whenever I would take them out, they would be like …” she gave a big smile to describe their faces. “They knew Mawmaw was taking pictures.”
“You know, I’m very lucky,” Bostic said, standing in front of her destroyed home.
Bostic kept mentioning Jim and Emma’s house, which had been completely washed away in the flood further down the creek.
Bostic was able to get to her house. The last time Tina Spencer, from Elkview, was able to check on her house was at 4 a.m.
Early Friday afternoon, U.S. 119 was completely flooded near Elkview and Spencer was stranded with her mother, Nancy, two daughters and grandson at the Poca Valley Bank at Frame Road.
The last time Spencer had checked, her house was still standing, but water had crept up through much of the backyard.
Spencer was able to get away from Poca Valley Bank, through a ride on Doug May’s boat.
He had been boating back and forth over the water between the road and Poca Valley Bank, making several rescues.
He gave a ride to a woman who had collapsed on the floor of a store while out looking for a tuxedo with her son.
“That lady who had a stroke made it all worth it,” May said.
Darcy Cochran and Shawn Berry were two more of May’s passengers. They had been at Poca Valley Bank since Thursday, when the water got so high that they couldn’t get through.
“So many people woke up today without their homes,” Cochran said.
Others couldn’t get ahold of their loved ones.
Barbara Kay drove down Frame Road only to be met by high water. She had been trying to find a way to Clendenin all morning to reach her sister.
The last Kay had heard, her sister was stuck on the second floor of her house because the first floor had completely flooded.
She had been trying to figure out how to get to her since.
Much of the area lies in House Speaker Tim Armstead’s district.
“Just about my entire district has been hit hard,” Armstead said. “No one can ever remember seeing anything like this.”
Armstead, R-Kanawha, said he’s been in contact with the mayor and fire department in Clendenin.
The basement of Armstead’s home flooded, like many houses in Elkview.
Armstead said he doesn’t think the house sustained any major structural damage.
“I don’t think so, but we still have 7 feet of water down there, and can’t get down there to check,” he said.
Armstead said he was able to get many items in the house’s family room upstairs before the basement flooded.
“It’s affected a large number of houses up in Elkview, and Clendenin is certainly much worse,” he said of flooding in his district.
At Crossings Mall shopping center in Elkview, about 500 people were stranded Thursday night when the culvert connecting shopping center to the road collapsed.
Pinch firefighters cut a hole in the barbed wire fence behind the 84 Lumber yard so that people who were stranded could walk down the hill to get a ride on the emergency relief buses or from friends and family.
State Division of Highways workers built a temporary bridge to the Crossings Mall off the Elkview interchange of Interstate 79. The temporary bridge, completed at about 9:30 p.m. Friday made it possible for vehicles to leave Crossings Mall, but was to be only for emergency purposes to enter the shopping center.
While there are restaurants and a hotel in the shopping center, the water line broke when the culvert was destroyed, leaving McDonalds unable to serve food and guests at the LaQuinta Inn without running water. West Virginia American Water Company workers were reportedly in the process late Friday night of installing a temporary water line to the shopping center to supply businesses there that had been without water since Thursday.
Lori Keaton and her daughter Megan checked into the LaQuinta Inn at the shopping center at about 5 p.m. Thursday because they couldn’t get to their house due to high water.
They spent the night in the hotel room, but with no running water in the hotel room, they hiked down the hill so that they could go to a family member’s house to shower.
Also stranded were Shannon Crihfield and her husband, who had gone to Crossings Mall to get dinner. Instead of getting a hotel room, the couple bought two pillows at K-Mart and slept in the car.
Sam Hicks, of Pinch, also went to get dinner at McDonalds because her power was out and “stayed for breakfast.”
She ended up spending the night in the restaurant. McDonalds kept the bathrooms open, but it couldn’t serve food because the restaurant didn’t have running water.
Hicks hiked the hill so that she could retrieve her parents’ medicine.
Once she got it, she planned on hiking back up the hill to the shopping center where her daughter, son, husband and parents were waiting.
Once people made it down the hill, they had the option to take a bus to Shoals Elementary School to take a shower.
But Terry Hollandsworth, Kanawha County Schools’ maintenance director, said that people were being moved to Capital High School because Shoals did not have power.
Capital was the only Kanawha public school being used as a shelter early Friday afternoon.
Hollandsworth said he’s sure there’s a “substantial” amount of water in Bridgeview and Clendenin elementary schools, along with Elkview Middle and Herbert Hoover High. He said he didn’t know how much water is in the schools because they are unreachable.
“You can’t even get off the interstate at Clendenin,” Hollandsworth said early Friday afternoon.
When the waters recede, Hollandsworth said the school system will bring in custodians to clean the schools and then have inspections from carpenters, electricians and heating, ventilation and air conditioning workers.
Reach Daniel Desrochers at email@example.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @drdesrochers on Twitter.