Rupert recoveries

(Photo by Mark Robinson)
At the foot of the Shannon McClung’s driveway, a home lodged during the flood a year ago, collecting trash and debris. The neighborhood has waited for a year for the completion of the bridge over Anjean Creek, so workers and equipment can get in to do cleanup.

Last year, this newspaper featured a photo of a buckled and destroyed home in Rupert, up Anjean Road.

Today, that house has been completely removed, and a mobile home has been placed where it was, mounted on blocks to raise it above any possible flood level. The occupants, who rented, have moved to another home on Anjean Road, about a mile toward town, and the Mountain Messenger couldn’t reach them.

But, across the creek, Shannon McClung was home, with a bunch of kids playing ball in the back yard. The bridge to their home is brand new, and the long driveway has new gravel, but structures and vehicles and other trash litter the roadside on the way to their house.

“We didn’t have a bridge for 11 months. Now we have a bridge. They’re supposed to start cleaning up pretty soon. From here to Kessler Bridge is everything that washed down, sheds, trailers, refrigerators, trees, all laying on the creek bank. It was a junkyard across the creek. Lots of cars, and there must be a hundred tires,” McClung says.

She says no one lives in the mobile home that was moved in to replace the old house. It’s been there three or four months.

McClung recalls the flood: “I was in the house when the flood hit, with my five kids and three other kids. My husband Matt was here. The bridge up at the scale house, where the coal company is, backed up the water when the trees lodged against it. When it gave way, it all came down here. We have a 30-foot bank. It wasn’t long until we saw all this stuff floating by, pretty soon the water was to the top of the bank. It was like a tidal wave came through. A propane tank lodged in a tree and was spewing gas. I had all the kids in the house, it smelled like propane everywhere. The neighbor’s house floated down, snapped a power pole, sparks and flames shooting all over, in the wood shed. With the flames and the propane, I told the kids we gotta get out of here. We went up on the mountain and sat for two hours.

“My husband went to check on the neighbor’s mom. He had to go up the mountain and circle around. He came back and said everything was gone. Nothing standing except the barn.

“The elderly couple, they always left when it was going to flood. There was a man down there who had cows, he was working on his fence, he said the water came through so fast, within minutes the water came up high, he had to float over to a pine tree and he was in that tree all night. We thought maybe Delmus and Rita had got into the house that washed down. We went down and yelled, and Matt tried to wade out to it, but the water was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Like big ocean waves you surf on. I told him , you’re going to wash down, and I’m going to try to get you, and we’re going to leave eight kids in the house alone.

“In the morning the man in the tree came up and told us what happened to them. Three of our neighbors lost.

“After the flood, we couldn’t get in or out. So we made a trail, and made a bridge, and we walked out to Kessler Road and parked in a friend’s driveway, and walked in and out for 11 months, carrying our groceries in, carrying our trash out.

“Our neighbor, Doug, is going to rebuild his house, Samaritans’ Purse will help. The Mennonites, I’ve never seen anything like them. It was amazing. Those young boys working. That bridge was supposed to be done in 14 days, and I think they did it in eight days. And their work, it’s perfection. I never expected it to look so good. It’s an all new bridge, beams and everything. We really appreciate the Mennonites, and Samaritan’s Purse, and Neighbors Loving Neighbors, for building the bridge.

“It was hard to go through the flood. And it was hard walking all those months, when we couldn’t drive to our house. Our little girl is just three. She didn’t want to walk through the woods and up the mountain. We’d carry her. But things are finally getting back to normal. It makes you grateful.”

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