Appalachia Braces For More Rain

In Appalachia, what was supposed to be a once-in-a-century flood was trumped in less than a year and as the cleanup in West Virginia continues, more rain is in the forecast.

CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassman reports that thousands residents are now trying to salvage a sense of hope amongst the mud and misery.

A week ago, five inches of rain fell in just six hours in a downpour of biblical proportions.

A cascade of rocks and water and mud came crashing down off water-saturated mountains, crippling the communities in its path.

Flooding forced many residents out of their homes to seek higher ground.

"We're out of options, definitely," said Kelly Bailey, who has been forced to live in a makeshift tent with her sons since muddy water and debris swept through her home. "You gotta do what you gotta do. I just wish our home wasn't like that.

"It just mowed things over. It just came so fast," Bailey said.

Only now is help reaching some mountain hollows, so far off the main road it was once said they "piped in the sunshine and piped out the moonshine."

"My estimate is a year before the public water system is back on line," said Col. Richard Starcher of the West Virginia National Guard.

State crews and contractors have fanned out across the effected areas to repair or restore highways ripped apart by the floods.

The West Virginia Division of Highways says high waters caused an estimated $13 million in damage to primary and secondary roads.

Damage ranged from washed-out shoulders and mudslides to completely destroyed sections of roads.

This was the second devastating flood in West Virginia in ten months and residents may not have seen the end of their troubles. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the rains started up again, prompting the issuance of a new flood watch.

Also Thursday, powerful storms blasted parts of the Midwest.

A violent windstorm ripped through a trailer park in Illinois early Thursday, killing two people and injuring more than a dozen others, officials said.

Fourteen mobile homes and two houses were either damaged or destroyed, including one trailer found wrapped around a tree, its axles facing skyward. Downed power lines and toppled trees littered the trailer park near Centralia, about 60 miles east of St. Louis.

"It's just mass destruction," Centralia city manager Gail Simer said. "Mobile homes are just rubble, there are twisted tin sheds and storage buildings. There's nothing left."

Public works director Don Copple said police reports showed two deaths and 15 injuries from the storm. The National Weather Service could not immediately confirm if it was a tornado.

One 15-year-old girl crawled out from under the couch she had been sleeping on after her family's mobile home was blown about 50 yards and flipped on top of another.

"The trailer wasn't there," said the girl's mother, Cindy Estes, who arrived home just after the storm hit. She said her daughter suffered only a bump on the head.

Wednesday evening, another possible tornado damaged at least 25 homes in southeastern Ohio and injured three people, including two truckers whose tractor-trailer rigs were blown over, authorities said.

"I knew I was going to be in for a ride," said trucker Michael Belsches, 41, who suffered cuts and bruises. "You could see it throwing trees and brush off the ground. It was like blasting stuff."

In Missouri, flash flooding from storms Tuesday and Wednesday left two people daad and two others missing.

Cristen Bell, 17, was killed in southwest Missouri when she got out of her stalled car late Tuesday and was pushed under the vehicle by rushing water, officials said. John E. Nelson, 47, died Tuesday night when his pickup truck washed away in flooding near Joplin. Another man in that area was last seen near a boat ramp Wednesday night, authorities said.

In Lincoln County, about 50 miles north of St. Louis, 19-year-old Tim Licktieg was missing after he jumped into the Cuivre River on a dare Monday night and never made it shore, authorities said Thursday.

The search for his body was on hold Thursday morning because the river rose overnight and the current was strong.

"At this point, we're going strictly for recovery," said Bob Shramek, a fire chief from Silex who was helping coordinate the rescue effort. "It's hard. It's taking a toll on quite a few people, losing a young man out of our community."
  • John Esterbrook

Comments