Kanawha County Commission: 2 houses destroyed, nearly 50 others damaged in floods

County releases initial flood damage survey results 

By: - September 1, 2023 6:00 am

Nearly 50 homes were destroyed in Monday’s flooding in Kanawha County, W.Va. (Office of Gov. Jim Justice | Courtesy photo)

During Monday morning’s flash floods, two Kanawha County homes were destroyed and nearly 50 others sustained major or minor damage, according to surveys completed so far by residents in affected communities. 

So far, 103 weather damage surveys from residents have been recorded, according to a Thursday news release from the Kanawha County Commission.

Of the 103 homes surveyed:

  • Two were destroyed
  • 15 sustained major damage
  • 33 sustained minor damage
  • 28 were affected, but had minimal damage to structure and contents
  • Two were unaffected
  • Seven homes inaccessible
  • 16 were not determined

The results do not include damage to infrastructure such as public roads, bridges and streams. 

State and county representatives have been going door to door in flooded areas asking residents to complete the survey. One use of the survey will be to determine if the cost of the flood damage qualifies residents for individual assistance from the federal government. 

The flash floods, brought on after several inches of rain fell in places Monday and during the weekend prior, affected eastern Kanawha County communities along State Route 60 and 61, including Slaughter Creek, Winifrede-Fields Creek, Witcher Creek, Kelly’s Creek and Horsemill Hollow areas. 

The flash floods led Gov. Jim Justice to declare a state of emergency for Kanawha and four other counties — Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, and Roane. 

Jenny Gannaway, director of West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, said the organization has been responding to needs of flooded residents since Monday, when it opened its office at the Quincy Center in Belle as shelter for seven people with nowhere else to go for the night. 

Six disaster relief groups from several religious denominations are already working in the area, mucking flooded homes, she said. 

“We’ve got a great group of volunteers and voluntary organizations, and we really appreciate the support we’ve gotten from the state, the county,” Gannaway said. “So we’ve all been really working well together.”

Pastors from the organizations in collaboration with the state Department of Health and Human Resources deployed as “emotional and spiritual care teams” beginning Thursday, she said. 

“People are emotionally drained right now,” she said. “They’ve had a hard hit, so we felt it was good to have those folks who are trained out there talking [to people].”

VOAD is also providing assistance to residents in all the affected counties, she said. The organization has set up shower trailers for affected residents in the two of the hardest hit areas — Fields Creek, at a nearby mining office, and another at the fire station at the mouth of Witcher Creek, she said. 

Besides Kanawha, Calhoun was the other hardest hit county, she said. 

“[They’ve] got a lot of issues there with homes being flooded,” Gannaway said. “And Calhoun has a lot of farmland, so they have a lot of farms that were flooded. And that causes issues because that’s their livelihood, their farms and what they’re raising, and they’ve lost that now.”

Gannaway said VOAD and emergency management leaders from around the state and volunteer groups are on a daily call to keep responding organizations informed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is not involved so far in response, but representatives listen in for situational awareness, Gannaway said.

“We started these calls Monday afternoon, talking everything and keeping everybody on the same page with what’s happening,” she said. “ And it really runs a lot smoother when we are able to talk and communicate daily with each other.”

People who are interested in volunteering to clean out houses can contact the VOAD office. Gannaway said the office tries to pair inexperienced workers with skilled volunteers. 

“We don’t want to send volunteers that have not been trained in mucking out homes into a home and it cause more damage than what it was,” she said. “So we try to team them up with skilled volunteers to where they can work and still be able to to help but they have guidance from the skilled volunteers.”

The VOAD office can be reached by phone at 304-553-0927 or email at [email protected]


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Lori Kersey
Lori Kersey

Lori Kersey is a reporter with a decade of experience reporting in West Virginia. She covers state government for West Virginia Watch.