Flood of 1950

Glenville Pathfinder
June 30, 1950

Worst Flash Flood In History Sweeps Troy And Other Communities

Thirty-One Known Dead In 6-County Area;
Little Kanawha River Hits Crest Of 31.1 At Glenville

The worst flash flood on record swept across parts of Gilmer and nine other central state counties Saturday night and Sunday morning and took the lives of some thirty-three persons, twenty-seven of whom were reported recovered by Wednesday morning.

Here in Gilmer County the storm swept through the northeast end of Gilmer County and surging waters from Fink and Leading creeks rolled down through Troy and swept everything in its path. Only seven of the some thirty-five homes in that community escaped the flood ravage.

The Little Kanawha River in Glenville reached a crest of 31.1 late Sunday afternoon and flooded Main Street to a depth of four feet. All Lower Main Street business places were flooded. The water was 3 inches short of flooding McCullough's store; it was up to the second shelf in the R. B. store, flooded three service stations on the corner, was more than a foot deep in Midland Store, in the City Restaurant, Berkhouse Drug Store, A. & P. Store'[,] Murphy's store, Kanawha Bakery, State Liquor Store, Shaver Motor Sales, Inc., Blue Ribbon Restaurant.

Rainfall locally was 2.03 inches between 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday. Most persons arose here Sunday unaware that a flood was coming Water from flooded Sand Fork and Burnsville rolled in here Sunday and was held back from the torrent pouring into the river from Leading Creek. At one time the river rose more than two feet an hour.

All lowland between Glenville and Burnsville was cleaned of crops, hay and garden plants.

Two homes at least in Brooklyn Addition were flooded and all basements there and on both lower and upper Main were filled with water. Traffic was halted and bus passengers were held up here all day Sunday. The water was two feet deep in Hotel Conrad and Restaurant.

Rainfall in the Leading Creek valley was estimated from 7 to 8 inches and swept down that country so quickly that residents had only time enough to get out of bed and rush to the hills. Bulk of the storm hit there shortly after 11 p.m.

Haystacks, henhouses, hogs and most everything else in the path of the raging torrent went down stream and the whole valley was a sorry sight as daylight came and people began to get a view of what had taken place in pitch darkness. Electric went off during the storm but Monogahela [sic] Power Co. had two crews of workers on the job Sunday and by noon service was restored.

Biggest flood previously in Troy area was in 1888, but this one - the 1950 version - was estimated to be from seven to eight feet higher. Water swept two houses off their foundations, carried away barns, cribs, cellar houses and lifted the James Turner Store and turned it partly around.

Water was from two to ten feet in several homes, swept the porch off the West home, destroyed all furniture and clothing and ruined most of the goods in the Ira Reed and Raleigh Royster stores.

Elsewhere in this issue a survey of the Troy flood appears.

Throughout the central state area the flash flood hit terrifically in Ritchie, Doddridge, Harrison, Lewis, Braxton, Upshur counties and left hundreds of people homeless.

One of the Ritchie County flood victimes [sic] was Wilbur El Brake, Jr., a brother of Mrs. Gorman Self of Glenville and a brother of Albert and Philip Brake, graduates of Glenville State College. Brake, World War II veteran, was married and the father of one son. Surviving him besides Mrs. Selft, a sister, and the two brothers mentioned, are his parents of Cairo, and two sisters, Mary Catherine of Glenville and Phyllis Ann at home.

Weston was almost completely flooded. The torrent ripped lose a 450,000 gas tank at Kennedy Station and damaged the Hope's plant there more than a million dollars, said George McCullough, supt. of Gilmer District. Payne Station at Alico in Gilmer County was hard hit; likewise Tonkin Station in Ritchie and Mertz in Lewis County. The Little Kanawha River flooded both the Pitt. and W. Va. and United Fuel Gas stations at Hay's City and Trubada.

Gas was cut off in the Troy section and residents there up until Wednesday had no means of cooking. Volunteer groups set up a temporary kitchen in the IOOF Lodge Hall and have been feeding the population. Glenville and Tanner groups have been joining others in taking in food, clothing and other needed items. Water from Glenville for drinking purposes was taken there Sunday and on Wednesday this problem again had become acute. Wells have to be cleaned and treated before drinking water can be had.

The American Red Cross was on the job this week and Miss Theresa White was sent there as a disaster relief worker from the national headquarters. All persons in the flood area are being urged to register losses either at Troy headquarters or at the Glenville headquarters. Jack V. Stalnaker is county Red Cross chairman; Mrs. Ed Mackey is secretary and has been supervising the local office volunteer staff.

The Glenville Presbyterian Church congregation Wednesday collected and moved into Troy a truck load of food stuff and clothing articles. Other groups plan to send food and clothing.

Household losses in Troy were terrible. Arthur Moore, school principal, said damage to his home and furnishings would be at least $4,000. That figure would go for most every other flooded home there.

At West Union the flood picture was horrifying. As many as eight houses in one block along Middle Island Creek went down the raging torrent. One of the homes lost was that of Mr. and Mrs. Bantz W. Craddock, Jr., natives of Glenville.

Telephone service was disrupted throughout the whole area and Sunday through Wednesday only emergency calls were put through. Dial equipment in West Union was a total loss, but C. and P. forces moved in temporary equipment and had public phones in operation as early as Sunday evening. Equipment was flown in from as far away as Philadelphia.

Congressman Cleveland M. Bailey Dem., Third District, was on the flood scene Tuesday and Wednesday and U. S. Senator Harley M. Kilgore was in close tough with the situation and both men have arranged for government services to do everything possible to rehabilitate the stricken area.

The Red Cross sent a truck load of mattresses to Troy from Glenville. Cots were moved in there and in other centers to provide temporary sleeping facilities. Schools and other public buildings were pressed into use as havens for the homeless until other arrangements can be made.

Salem, Berea, Harrisville, Smithfield and a half dozen other communities were hit by the flood. Ninety percent of the homes in the little Berea town were washed away and there is no end to the stories of horror that came about with the loss of the some thirty-three lives. Men climbed trees and waited all night as the torrents swept by. As many as thirteen persons were drowned in one house in Doddridge County.

The Liberty Bell replica that visited Glenville Monday - program cancelled because of the flood - barely missed damage in Weston. The truck was to have moved into the Lewis Motor garage but clearance prohibited. Other shelter for the night was obtained. The garage was flooded Saturday night, a huge gas tank came up through the floor and floated across the street and cars and trucks were flooded in the building, so quickly came the water that workers were unable to move them out. Owner of the garage is Ralph Shaver, father of Glenville's local Ford agency dealer.

At least one highway bridge was swept off its piers in Gilmer County when a barn full of hay landed against it after being washed from Troy community.

Weston estimated damage there at 2,000,000. Gilmer County's loss will be at least at $1,000,000, considering loss and damage to crops, homes, business, etc., There is no estimate of the tons and tons of hay that went down the Little Kanawha from Sand Fork, Leading Creek and other streams. All along the Little Kanawha from Glenville to Burnsville the loss was tremendous.

The crest of the river at Glenville was about two feet short of a record of 33 feet in 1930.

There was a good spirit at work in Gilmer County this week as persons from all walks of life surveyed the damage and volunteered help wherever it was needed. Troy citizens on several occasions have spoken of how much they appreciate the help being given from all other parts of the county.

Thousands of persons have been driving to various parts of the flood stricken area of evenings and almost every house there comes a new version of disaster. Full weight of any flood cannot be determined that the moment.

State Police and the Red Cross Tuesday reported thirty persons dead in the six-county area: among the known dead, Clive Bailey, Mrs. Bailey, B. J. Cooper, Mrs. Cooper, Linden, Karen, Roger and Nelda Cooper, Mrs. Lorraine McKinney, Naomi and Samuel Linnie McKinney, all of Smithburg; Marjorie, Joan and Kathleen McKinney, all of Smithburg; Mrs. Minnie Rothwell, Mrs[.] Katherine Simms, Charlotte Simms, Abe Williams, Mrs. Williams, all of Smithburg; Mrs. Clark Bee, Mrs. Hobart Brake, William Gribble, Mrs. Delzi Koontz, Lester Sullivan, Wilda Sullivan, all of Berea; Mrs. Arch Bailey of Kincheloe, Sherman Moore of Harrisville and Wilbur Brake of Mole Hill.


West Virginia Archives and History