“This is our way of saying we love you, we care, we’re still here for you and we appreciate everybody,” said Mayor Andrea Pendleton a year to the day after the June 23, 2016, flood, at a candlelight remembrance service held at a packed Rainelle United Methodist Church last Friday evening. It was an emotional time for the people of Rainelle.
The mayor wanted to reach out and invite those from other communities to attend as well. Four people in the Rainelle community lost their lives in the flood, and the program for the evening included remembrance of all 23 of the victims who died throughout West Virginia.
A candlelight vigil, with 500 votive candles set in paper bags lining the sidewalk and the steps up to the door of the church, was Pendleton’s way of expressing remembrance of those who passed away and those who were impacted by the flood.
“I loved them and knew every one of them, but this is my way of remembering them,” said Pendleton in a press release.
The remembrance program included a video presentation, “Rainelle – One Year Later,” sponsored by Mountaineer Automotive and narrated by Pastor David Bush, that showed familiar places around town where homes once were and where the waters had flooded the streets, homes and businesses. The video included remarks from the mayor and retired Rainelle Volunteer Fire Department Chief George Brooks, who offered recognition for the heroic rescue efforts of the first responders teams during the flood. Dave Lumsden, with the Greater Greenbrier Long-Term Recovery Committee, along with several local residents, also shared stories of their flood experiences.
State Senator Ron Miller gave a pastoral message to the gathering, and the Greenbrier Springhouse Entertainers provided music during the candle lighting ceremonies. At the close of the program, director of entertainment at The Greenbrier, Jeff Bryant, played “Taps” on his trumpet.