Record Flood Hits L-K Valley in 1939

(08/21/2002)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 4/20/1939.

Kanawha Valley Hit by Biggest Flood in Years

Flood of 1918 Eclipsed by Saturday and Sunday Deluge
Much Damage Done Locally

A flood in the Little Kanawha River, exceeding the one of March 13, 1918, caused excessive damages throughout the county Sunday and Monday.

Following almost incessant downpours lasting from Friday midnight until Sunday noon the Little Kanawha rose to a tide of 43.1 ft., a few inches more than in 1918.  No accurate gauge is maintained here; hence no official records are available.  Here, nearly all residents of the town west of Mill street had to evacuate their homes or move to upper stories of the same.  To homes in the lower-lying section of the town, much damage was done to floors and walls.

No actual distress followed the flood, but several families were taken care of by the local Red Cross chapter and other similar organizations.  Those living on higher grounds rushed to the help of their neighbors with trucks and boats to move endangered household goods.

In the lower section of South Grantsville much damages was done to homes and the store of Cleo Gainer & Company, near the high school, was flooded with disastrous consequences.  Late Sunday afternoon the plant of the West Penn company was compelled to shut down and the areas served by it was in darkness until the following afternoon when an auxillary gas engine was rushed in from Parkersburg and curtailed service given.

At Cabot Station, the big condensing plant of the Hope Natural Gas Company, located two miles below Grantsville, water invaded the compressor room and the plant was shut down for several days.

All residents on the river side of the road in Cabot Station community were driven from their homes, with the exception of Elijah Nester and Fred Hickel.  They sought refuge with and were given comfort by their neighbors on higher grounds.

A short distance above Cabot station, a new dwelling built by Eldon Riddle was carried from its foundation and swept by a ferocious current kissed a house belonging to his brother, Dye Riddle.  Like pool balls with a lot of english, Eldon's house bounced back against a telephone pole.  The other missed a pocket and remains about half-suspended over the river bank.

Brooksville fared about like Grantsville.  Lower-built houses got it. The store of E. Ray Busch had a few inches of water on the main floors.  The Holbert store escaped with a few feet in the basement.

Steer Creek which furnished a great part of the water for the flood was on one of the worst rampages in its history, according to information received by the Chronicle from L. H. Stump, prominent resident of that district.  Greatest damage was to plowed land, although many people were compelled to leave their homes.

The West Fork valley was not hit as hard as it has been by previous floods in recent years, but waters were high and much damage was done throughout the valley.

Flood Notes

Although water was rising and threatening their new home on Court street, members of Victor Hamilton Post No. 82, American Legion, under the commandership of Ike Snyder, went to bat for all in trouble, moved furniture, fed 'em soup and sandwiches, policed the town; did everything white folks are supposed to do.  To the Legion, the Red Cross, and other charitable and social organization in Grantsville, too much credit and commendation for their efforts to relieve the suffering and distress cannot be given.


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