CALDWELL, WV (WVNS) — The 2016 floods were life changing. Many watched as communities were swallowed by rising water and destroyed.
Governor Jim Justice was running for his first term at the time, and he was just days away from the start of the annual PGA Golf tournament at The Greenbrier Resort when the rain began to fall.
“When I left out of the front of the hotel and when I got down to Route 60, all I could see was water,” Justice explained.
Water covered his golf courses; White Sulphur Springs was in ruins. Images the Governor said he will never be able to forget.
“The asphalt on this road was peeled off like someone had peeled a banana and thrown the asphalt in the woods. It was unbelievable devastation and I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Justice said.
The golf tournament was canceled, and the Governor stopped his campaign. He opened the doors to The Greenbrier Resort for displaced people in White Sulphur Springs.
But the road to recovery was far from over. Justice was elected Governor that November, with flood relief efforts still a major issue.
“It not only shaped my first year in office, it shaped my life. We saw something here that came together, how people came together,” Justice said.
The Governor said the floods taught him about the resilience of West Virginians, which stuck with him through his time in office.
“This changed me as a human being. It changed all of us. We saw all of us as West Virginia strong, we saw the greatness of West Virginians,” Justice explained.
As he looks back on the last five years, Justice said he will continue working to help those who are still rebuilding.
“They got to know they are not alone, there is a whole army of us still willing to help in anyway they can,” Justice said.