|Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of
the Calhoun Chronicle dated 8/12/1943.
Calhoun's Worst Flood Disaster In Years Strikes Last Thursday
Mother and 6-Months-Old Daughter Are Drowned in Calhoun County When
Waters Sweep Home Into Stream; 5 Die in Wirt, and 16 in Braxton
Place Estimated Damage at $2,000,000; OCD, Red Cross Join in Helping
Death and destruction followed in the wake of the worst flood to hit
this section in many years last Thursday following the torrential rains
of Wednesday night, cutting a 120-mile swath over five Central West Virginia
Counties, costing the lives of 23 persons and causing damages estimated
at more than $2,000,000.
Calhoun County reported the death of two (illegible). Seven drowned
in Wirt County, and 16 were killed by the storm in Braxton County.
Although Gilmer and Ritchie counties escaped fatalities, damages to roads,
homes, livestock, and farms ran high.
The deluge, lifting creeks and small rivers out of their banks within
a few moments, swept away homes. The speed of its destruction was
so great that families had no chance to escape. Most of the occupants,
whose bodies were later found when streams subsided, were asleep at the
time their homes were enveloped by onrushing waters.
Mrs. Howard Bee, 25 years old, and her 6-months-old daughter, Lily Mae
Bee, were found some distance away from their Calhoun home on Tanner's
run. The body of Mrs. Bee - her nightgown entangled in a barbed wire
fence - was located a mile below Tanner on Trace Fork.
Her child's body, which was not discovered until Monday, was found across
the county line in Gilmer County. When their home was swept away
by the high waters, Mr. Bee and Mrs. Bee's father managed to get ashore.
Both suffered injuries.
At least nine persons were rendered homeless in the White Pine area.
The Huffman dairy at Leafbank was destroyed. Two bridges, valued
at $20,000, were dumped into the swollen streams, and a 75-foot gorge was
on State Route 35 near Big Springs.
The Little Kanawha River at Grantsville rose to 36 feet, with damage
unestimated along its course.
All but two members of the Floyd Nelson family on Big Island Run, Wirt
County, were drowned when their house was swept away by the swollen stream.
In addition to the father, four children, Willard, 17; Ruth, 16; Virginia,
8; and Edna May Nelson, 5, died. The body of one of the children
was found more than 12 miles away from the disaster scene.
Mrs. Nelson and her oldest son, James, 17 years old, who were visiting
in Elizabeth at the time of the storm, escaped.
Braxton County appeared o be the storm's center, with Burnsville and
a 20-mile radius suffering most. At Marple's store, O'Brien Creek
was measured at 20 feet deep.
The dead in that county, with one small child unfound to yesterday,
included the following:
Mrs. Lydia Queen, 38 years old; Martin, 12, Phyllis, 8; Peggy, 2; and
Alan Queen, 1, who lived at Rollins, near Heaters; Mrs. Tom Daughtery,
50; and her son, Gaylor Daughtery, 22; visitors at the Queen home; Mr.
and Mrs. George Yeager, Copen; and Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Simons, their three
thildren, Moneta, 23; Maxine, 16, and Robert, 6 and their grandchildren.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A 2008 correction to the Simon death from Norma J. Simon Stern - " have read the article on your website "Heavy Loss of Life in 1943
Flood" and have a correction.
My grandparents were Mr. & Mrs. C. B. Simon (not Simons) and were
drown in the flood, but they had no children or grandchildren drown
in the flood. Their two sons did not live at home; one lived in the
Clarksburg area and the other in Michigan.
I don't know whose family the three, children Moneta, 23; Maxine,
16; and Robert, 6 and their grandchildren mentioned in the article
belonged to, but they certainly weren't my grandparents' relatives."
Gov. M.M. Neely at Charleston placed the storm damage at over $2,000,000
with the State Road Commission suffering losses estimated above $200,000.
Red Cross representatives and Civilian Defense Corps were immediately dispatched
to the disaster zones to assist in rehabilitation.
The Charleston OCD gave the loan of a portable (illegible) to the five
counties in helping (illegible) debris left by receding streams.
It was estimated Tuesday that approximately 400 families in the 5-county
area were affected by the storm.
The flood in the Bull River, White Pine, Yellow Creek, Leafbank, Simmons
Run and Big Spring communities was the worst flood in their history.
The White Pine community was in the more disastrous condition as thirty
people had been left homeless and without food and clothing. Red
Cross workers were sent to different flood districts and reported the greatest
necessities. Food and clothing was taken to the White Pine community
by Thursday noon. Other flooded communities reported that no immediate
aid was necessary as friends and neighbors took care of the homeless for
the day. Miss Margaret Arbuckle, Calhoun County nurse, with local
Red Cross aid, is holding free typhoid clinics in the flooded area but
immunization was not made compulsory.
Local Red Cross workers are still aiding the ones whose homes were washed
away and plans are being made for the future. State Red Cross workers
in Grantsville Monday and Tuesday, visited the flooded communities where
Lieut. Col. James P. Easley, U.S. Army liaison officer for the OCD headquarters,
and Walter R. Mitchell, deputy executive director, Miss Mary Chesney and
Miss Mildred Widen of the rehabilitation division of Washington, D.C.
Those in the flooded districts in Calhoun County with their homes washed
away or damaged were Bill Johnson on Bull River, the entire lower floor
flooded, bedding and floor covering ruined, dishes broken and all canning
sugar ruined. Lost some crops.
Mike Richards, of Yellow Creek, water four feet in house, furniture
saved. Crops damaged.
Dural Fluharty, home washed from foundation, household furniture and
Wellington Rogers, home washed away, furniture, clothing, food and money
John Yoak, water four feet in house, washed out grist mill, garden,
truck and 5,000 feet of lumber and most all crops.
Henderson Richards, water ran three feet in home, all bedding and furniture
White Pine district, Leonard Burrows home washed away, garden crops
Francis Kelley, home and outbuildings washed away. Lost all chickens
and three pigs, canned food ruined.
Mrs. W.H. Ayers, home washed away, lost all household furnishings, chickens
and canned foods.
Homer Kendall, home washed away, furnishings, food and clothing lost.
Dale Kight, home washed thirty feet from foundation, small amount of
furnishings saved, lost one hundred chickens and crops, canned food saved.
Callie Simmons, two feet of water in home, did not receive much damage.
Gilbert Haddox, home and furnishings completely ruined by the rushing
water running through the house. Lost over one hundred chickens.
Leafbank community: Art Huffman operates a dairy, grade A milk,
washed away milk house and all dairy equipment, moved barn 12 feet,
water in home. Household furnishings damaged.
Jack Carpenter, water one foot in home, barn washed away, two hogs lost,
Simmons Run: George Kelley, barn washed from foundation, the water
was in several homes but no serious damage done.
The town of Grantsville suffered no losses except gardens and crops
in the lowlands.
The Parkersburg post of the American Legion Friday night offered its
aid to communities ravaged by flash floods in Calhoun, Ritchie and Wirt
Roy Hale, post commander, said offers were made to the Grantsville community
by telephone after action was authorized at their weekly meeting of the
Legionnaires. He reported the post's personnel is prepared to stand
by as an emergency unit to send whatever supplies can be offered to the
Commander Hale recalled that in Parkersburg's flood in 1937, the Grantsville
Legion post "sent us truckload after truckload of food and clothes as well
as $100 in cash, to help us during the emergency" and aid is now being
offered in return.