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Buffalo Creek

Governor Arch Moore temporarily banned journalists from the area to prevent what he called "irresponsible reporting." He complained,
"The only real sad part is that the state of West Virginia has taken a terrible beating that is worse than the disaster."
-- quote from Disaster on Buffalo Creek, 1972
Arch Moore
Remnants of a Dam
Remnants of one of the dams on Buffalo Creek
In 1967, the U.S. Department of the Interior had warned state officials the Buffalo Creek dams and 29 others throughout West Virginia were unstable and dangerous. The study was conducted in response to a mine dam break in Aberfan, Wales, in 1966, which killed 147, including 116 school children.
Many survivors experienced severe psychological problems for years after the flood. The trauma described by a World War II veteran who landed at Normandy was similar to that of numerous survivors:
"I have the feeling that every time it comes a storm it's a natural thing for it to flood. Now that's just my feeling, and I can't get away from it, can't help it. Seems like every time it rains I get that old dirty feeling that it is just a natural thing for it to become another flood. . . . I live up on a hill now, but that doesn't take away my fear. Every time it rains or goes to come up a storm, I get my flashlight -- if it's two o'clock in the morning or if it's three. Now it's approximately five hundred feet from my house to the creek, but I make me a round about every thirty minutes, looking at that creek. . . . The whole thing happens over to me even in my dreams, when I retire for the night. In my dreams, I run from water all the time, all the time. The whole thing just happens over and over again in my dreams." -- quote from Everything in Its Path, by Kai T. Erikson Houses
"My son will not go to bed at night without plenty of clothes on because he says that if the dam breaks again he doesn't want to get cold. When it rains, he sets his shoes beside the door and asks me if we are going to go up on the hill. My daughter was small then, but she has a certain hostility toward everyone. She seems to want to hurt everyone. She is bright for her age, but she acts very much older than what she is. She liked to play with dolls before the flood, but now she punches out their eyes and pulls their arms off. She calls her daddy on her play phone now when it rains and tells him to come get her because the dam is breaking. They both seem to be carrying a burden too heavy for children their ages. . . ." -- quote from Everything in Its Path, by Kai T. Erikson Bike
The Flood Table of Contents The Aftermath
West Virginia Archives and History