Carrying On Through the West Virginia Flooding


(Facebook/West Virginia Department of Transportation)

Rainelle, W.V. – A sign on the outskirts of the town of Rainelle, WV greets visitors with the slogan, “A Town Built to Carry On”. When several bands of severe thunderstorms moved through the state of West Virginia starting around 4:30 am on Thursday, June 23, 2016, that slogan was put to the test.

The storms brought high winds and torrential downpours, causing flash flooding, rising water levels in numerous rivers and streams, power outages and downed trees. The flooding caused extensive damage and destruction to homes, businesses and water and wastewater utility systems across the state. Over ten inches of rain fell in the area surrounding Rainelle. The Rainelle Water Treatment Plant was damaged with flood water cresting at 45 inches inside the treatment plant. West Virginia Rural Water Association’s (WVRWA) Circuit Rider Daniel Vestal arrived at the system at 9:00 am on Saturday morning. Fortunately, Vestal had attended a two-day Rural Water Disaster Response Training class last month which prepared him for the exact conditions he had experienced in the past four days.

The cleanup process began as the water level started to recede Saturday morning. Most of the motors and equipment had been under water and the electrical power was out. The neighboring town of Meadow Bridge sent their fire truck to help them clean out the mud and sediment that had washed into the water plant. Then began the process of drying out the motors and equipment to assess the flood damage. One of the pump motor suppliers was able to deliver and install a replacement for a damaged motor. The next step, will be to begin pressuring up the distribution system.

“It will likely take some time to detect and repair all of the damaged distribution system,” says Vestal. Leak detection and repair is a methodical process where you begin at the water plant and work your way out to the outer regions of the distribution system. “Things get better each day. Hopefully we can help to get this community back on its feet.” With the help of the Rainelle’s people, WVRWA and the surrounding communities, the town of Rainelle will be “A Town to Carry On”.