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As one resident stated, “The city of Richwood, West Virginia, has been no stranger to heartache,” sadly, the proud community’s “grin and bear it” heritage has been tested once again, this time in the form of a great flood.
The the full details are unclear at this time — there was some confusion as to whether or not the dam at Summit Lake had actually breached (multiple news agencies reported that the National Weather Service had stated it had, while the West Virginia State Police were quick to state that the dam had not breached and was “operating the way it was designed…”). One thing is clear, however, and it is that the community of Richwood, West Virginia, has been devastated and fundamentally changed.
Flash flooding from the Cherry River, which drains from Summit Lake, quickly overflowed its banks Thursday afternoon and flooded a significant portion of the town of 2,039 residents.
Included in the flooding was the Nicholas County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, a 97 bed skilled nursing facility with 25 private rooms. Images of this facility flooded began circulating on Facebook around 4:30 p.m., with many individuals whose family members were residents left with many questions as to their fate.
Fortunately, according to one eye witness on social media, the residents were taken by bus to a nearby church.
The city has had problems with periodic flooding in the past. Prior to 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved impact studies in order to determine the propriety of the construction of a dam on the South Fork of the Cherry River in order to limit future flooding. The proposed name for the possible lake would have been Eagle Lake and could have become the largest lake in the state of West Virginia, surpassing nearby Summersville Lake.
In recent years, Richwood sought to be be reborn as an artisan community and technology center.
In response to the flooding, as well as the threat of additional flooding, the West Virginia Emergency Operations Center has been activated.
The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management issued a statement regarding the condition of the Summit Lake Dam: “The US Forestry Service has checked the Summit Lake Dam in Greenbrier Co, they have found the lake level normal, no breaching and no overtopping.”
One individual stated, “This is so devastating, a poor town that has next to nothing is losing what little it has.”
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