Local Pastor in Greenbrier County talks about rebuilding process after 2016 floods

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CALDWELL, WV (WVNS) — Five years ago, water ravaged communities in Southern West Virginia.
One church congregation completely lost their place of worship.

“I remember looking over and was like God I don’t know how we are going to do this,” Michael Neel said.

The Caldwell Pentecostal Holiness Church suffered severe damaged in the 2016 floods. For Pastor Michael Neel, this was his first church and he remembers that terrible time all too well. 

“The water was up to the guardrail,” Neel continued.

The entire sanctuary was rearranged, and a piano was moved by the water. 

“And we knew we couldn’t have church there. But outside there have been a cross put. And I will never forget it because the cross that was outside. I remember the water that had receded that it even brought up a creek and a vehicle down and it brought big trees down yet the cross still stayed there,” Neel stated.

Neel said the cross symbolizes hope, and he knew God was going to help them get through. He said his faith was tested, but it never failed. 

“And after that we could’ve easily said you know what it’s not worth it, let’s move somewhere else. But yet because we stuck in and and we had the faith and believe that something is going to be better, and now we see what has happened through that and the future is very bright,” Neel said.

Neel told 59News this church had a very interesting history and when the floods happened, it made the history even more unique. 

“In 1919 is when the old church was built and they ended up having service in 1920. Well it’s kind of funny that 100 years later, last year we just had our 100th anniversary that we started the build process in the new church in 2019 and we began to have church in 2020,” Neel continued.

Neel took 59News to the gassy area where people used to worship. He said many people grew up in the old building and have a lot of memories. 

“This would’ve been where the sidewalk was, and then there was a set of steps that went up and this probably right in here was  the porch where you went into the front door,” Neel explained.

Down Camp Ann Bailey Road is where the old church use to stand, but during the time of rebuilding they used a white church on Midland Trial as their temporary spot. Now, they are still rebuilding, but were able to move into their new church right down the street.

It took some time for them to rebuild, and Neel said the worst part of the rebuilding process was playing the waiting game.

“The important thing is the waiting process. You want to get into a place when you have an opportunity for something new. That’s been the hardest thing,” Neel said.

Putting your faith in God…

“It’s really been something to see, came from nothing to what we have now and God has just blessed us so much,” Neel said.

And walking by Faith and not by sight.

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