FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — A flash flood came through parts of Fayette County early on Monday, August 15, 2022, making creek waters in some of the hollows overflow their banks.
Fayette County’s Swift Water Rescue team evacuated several families from their homes in Smithers, where emergency officials had set up a makeshift command station.
There were no deaths or injuries, according to Boomer Fire Chief, Mike Myers. Those caught in the high waters said their homes and vehicles were damaged. Roads into one Smithers hollow were impassable in the early hours of the day.
“The creek was so high that it came up over my headlights, and I couldn’t even get through there. So I had to come back and I couldn’t get back out, because they had done blocked off all the roads. This is crazy. This is the most water I’ve seen up here in my whole life and I’ve lived up here for 21 years,” said Noah Arthur, who tried to drive into his hollow around five in the morning.
Before Arthur arrived, Harvey McCune’s family tried to leave the hollow, and narrowly avoided a tragedy while doing so.
“At 4:30 a.m. my daughter left, taking my nine-week-old grandson in for surgery, and they got trapped in the truck down here in the underpass and they got washed away, and they got out of it,” said McCune. “Three adults and the baby got out of the truck, but the truck’s gone.”
McCune said he is glad the water only took a vehicle.
“We don’t even care about the truck,” he said. “We’re so blessed by God that they made it out of that. All the people that died in Kentucky last month. It’s a miracle that she made it out of that.”
Rescue crews said they were able to access some of the flooded hollows later in the morning, and were able to assess the damage shortly after.
West Virginia Department of Highway crews said several roadways in Fayette County were struck by mudslides and high water, making it hard for some to get to work.
Andrea Bess, an employee of The Country Store and Chimney Corner Cafe, said she saw videos of the flooding on social media. She said she had difficulty driving to her job.
“There was so much water in the road, I didn’t know if I’d be able to get through it or anything,” said Bess. “And then there was other cars trying to get through it, pulling off the side of the road trying to get by. “Everybody was just really struggling.”
Fayette rescue and emergency leaders said it is unclear how long some roads, like Route 39 near Gauley Bridge will take to reopen.