Community members reflect on the fourth anniversary of the Thousand Year Flood

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LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — On June 23, 2016, waters rushed into Greenbrier County, devastating homes and taking 23 lives.

“It’s a really somber day because you think about all of the loss and heartbreak that happened,” State Senator Stephen Baldwin said. “I still remember the smell. The smell of flood. I’ll never forget it.”

High waters rose to even higher levels, sweeping through the area, destroying whatever was in its path. Now, four years later, recovery is ongoing, and more than 200 people still need homes.

“We’re still miles away from being recovered from that,” President of the Greenbrier County Commission, Lowell Rose, said. “We still have buildings that need to be demolished.”

For many, the ongoing recovery is a constant reminder of that day. The anniversary of the 1,000-year-flood brings back loss, heartbreak and devastation.

“It’s hard to believe it was four years ago. In some ways it feels like it was four days ago and in some ways it feels like it was four lifetimes ago,” Sen. Baldwin said. “But it’s a really somber day. Twenty three people died four years ago. We had thousands of homes and businesses that were destroyed, and still four years later we’re trying to rebuild.”

While many areas are still working to rebuild after the flood, one city in Greenbrier County is stronger than ever. Since the 1,000-year-flood, White Sulphur Springs underwent revitalization efforts. Mayor Bruce Bowling said the floods were a call to action to rebuild and band together as a community.

“It was one of those moments were you either get up and do something or keep going down,” Bowling said. “The citizens of this town decided to tighten up their boot straps and get things happening. It’s a real success story and I’m very proud of our citizens for what’s happened here.”

White Sulphur Springs is undergoing many changes, including upgrades to the tennis courts, a new pool and fitness center. Bowling said while the floods were an event no one will ever forget, it is time to focus on the future.

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