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As Flood Rips Rainelle Apart, Family Comes Together

Roxy Todd. WVPB
Clean up efforts along Main Street, Rainelle, West Virginia

Norma Henasey came back to West Virginia a few years ago to help take care of her mother. She was staying with her on Thursday when the flood came, and she couldn’t get back into Rainelle to go home. The entire downtown was submerged in water.

Henasey finally got back to see what was left of her home on Friday. She was joined by her two sisters and a nephew as she began to clean out the mud.

The water mark was up to her mailbox. "It was so bad, it took the bedroom door off, and the frame," said Henasey. 

Mud has filled most of the inside of her car, which she says she purchased two weeks ago. The back looks like it had been rear-ended by a tidal wave.

Henasey rents her home. She likes it here, and doesn’t want to move. She has congestive lung issues and has trouble climbing stairs. The thought of finding a new home seems too daunting. She plans to stay with her mom until the landlord can do what he can to recover the apartment. If she can, she plans to move back.

Her nephew Jamie Williams came from Ohio to help his aunt and other residents of Rainelle. The day after the flood, he worked with neighbors to help rescue pets who had been stranded.

“I waded up to about my chin in water to get the dogs out. And the people were just...it was amazing, There were cats in trees. I came out with a ferret on my shoulder. And it wasn’t just me. It was the whole town,” said Williams.

Williams says he has a construction job in Ohio to get back to. But this week he plans to stay in Rainelle to help with the clean up effort. He says the town in is turmoil, and he can’t leave his family in turmoil. And he says family is the most important thing to him right now.

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