LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — Protect and serve took on a whole different meaning when the floods hit.
“You don’t receive training anywhere for the whole town to be under water,” Sgt. Andy Evans with West Virginia State Police said.
Sgt, Evans was sitting at home listening to the radio on June 23rd, 2016. He realized the weather was getting worse, so he quickly made his way to Rainelle. He remembers what the town looked like when he got there.
“The water was even with the gas pumps at Go-Mart, and it was just even all the way across the whole town,” Evans said.
Evans knew they did not have enough resources for water rescues, or even communication. He quickly began making called to get the State Police Command Unit out of Charleston and more water rescue teams. It was time to get to work until help could arrive, so they made due with what they had in front of them, rescuing people with limited materials.
Law enforcement on the east end of Greenbrier County was also navigating through uncharted waters. Sgt. Gary Workman with the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department was called in to work. He immediately began water rescues in the Caldwell area in water that was up to his chest in some spots. Workman said they were also gathering information from people who could not get ahold of their loved ones.
“We started to follow-up to determine if they had been rescued and taken to a safe haven or to the hospital or something to that effect. If we were not able to account for them, we started a missing person investigation,” Workman said,
Law enforcement and first responders worked long, hard hours with little food or sleep to search for all the missing people. Workman said the hardest part of the recovery efforts was finding people with the ending nobody wanted.
“Having to do the recovery of the individuals that were lost in the flood,” Workman said,
Broken communities left with nothing but devastation, but we’re all stronger together.
That’s what people realized when the floodwater finally went down.
“The community came together from all walks of life. Everybody was in the same boat. This didn’t discriminate against anyone,” Evans said.
“I saw the community come together like it’s never come together before. People who didn’t have a clue who anyone was, offering to lend a helping hand no matter what,” Workman said,
Rebuilding a community that is West Virginia strong.