Eintime Conversion for education and research 05-14-2006 @ 17:21:35
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W V2nd Flood*

Second flood this month hits southern West Virginia

By Bob Bird, AP

Rescuers transport Mount Hope, W.Va., residents to safety.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Streams returned to their banks Friday, allowing residents and officials to begin calculating the damage from the second severe flood to hit West Virginia this month.

Thunderstorms that dumped as much as 1.50 inches of rain per hour are being blamed for flooding homes in seven counties, washing away at least five private bridges and sending an undetermined amount of coal-polluted water into the Big Coal River.

Thursday's rains drenched many of the same areas trying to recover from July 8's record flooding. Two people were killed, 1,500 homes destroyed and 3,500 damaged in those floods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates recovery efforts will cost about $180 million.

"You just start putting your life back together and it gets washed away again," David Neal, deputy director for emergency services in Fayette County, said Friday. "After three weeks of this, I'm pretty tired."

Several homes were flooded in Minden and access to Pax and Mount Hope was cut off Thursday night by high water, according to the state Office of Emergency Services. Ten families in the Putnam County town of Hurricane were evacuated.

"I am heartsick," Pax Mayor Shirley Roberts told the Charleston Gazette. "It's hitting the same places in the exact same identical way."

Fifty families from the Kilsyth area were evacuated after their homes were flooded for the second time this month, and people in another 50 homes were stranded when four private, one-lane bridges were washed out in Boone County, officials said. A fifth bridge was washed away in McDowell County.

"It seems like every time it rains, we get a flood," Boone County Emergency Services Director Jim Lambert said. "We can't deal with any more rain."

An undetermined amount of blackwater spilled from an Elk Run Coal Co. operation into the Big Coal River. Blackwater is a mix of coal dust, dirt and rock.

State Department of Environmental Protection inspectors were inspecting coal mines in the area Friday. Residents claim runoff from mines contributed to the July 8 floods.

"All the ones we could get to were in pretty good shape," said the DEP's Jeff McCormick.

Officials said the rain contributed to a head-on collision on U.S. 52 in McDowell County that killed Mildred B. Church, 17, of Welch, and injured five others.

Power was restored Friday morning to most of the 3,500 customers from Huntington to Bluefield who lost electrical service during Thursday's storms, said American Electric Power spokesman Phil Moye.

The weather service was predicting more rain for the state Saturday.

"If the Lord wanted us, he would have taken us on July 8," Sue Potter of Worth told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. "Besides, after we lost everything, we can't lose anything else."


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