Ashton Marra Published

Clendenin Just Beginning to Recover from Historic Flood


By his estimate, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said thousands of homes have either been destroyed or damaged beyond repair after severe storms rolled through much of southeastern West Virginia Thursday, leaving in its wake some of the worst flooding the state has seen in years.

“No one’s seen anything like this before,” House Speaker Tim Armstead said Monday as he waited outside Clendenin Advent Christian Church for Tomblin.

After a press conference, Tomblin toured the church as Pastor Mike Todorovich pointed out the devastation.


Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The decades old baby grand piano that sits in the worship hall is one of the only items to survive the flood that filled Clendenin Advent Christian Church with water.

“We slept up on the balcony water got up as far as the stoop over there,” Todorvich told the governor as they stood in the worship hall that took on several inches, if not feet of water.

“When the water crested in the church, it went up about an inch on the window sill at that point before it started going back down.”

Todorvich showed Tomblin the mud, debris and three to four inches of water left behind in the churches basement. When he pointed to the decades old piano in the worship hall, the only thing that survived, he broke down.

“You know, when you see devastation like you have here in Clendenin, it’s going to take some time for people to get their homes, their lives back in order,” Tomlin said during his press conference. Earlier in the day, he had visited the town of Rainelle in Greenbrier County, one of the hardest hit by the storm.

FEMA- the Federal Emergency Management Agency- sent crews to the state Saturday to begin assessing the overall damage from the high water. Monday, more FEMA personnel began documenting and assessing the damage to personal property in the three counties named federal disaster areas.


Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin during a press conference in front of Clendenin Advent Christian Church

FEMA coordinating officer Albie Lewis says people should begin to clean up, but while they’re doing it, should take pictures and carefully document the damage to everything from dry wall to personal belongings. And they should register with FEMA so an assessor can help them get federal aid. 

Todorovich has started the cleanup process in his church’s community hall next door where volunteers from Circleville, Ohio, are tearing down damaged dry wall so it can be replaced.

Armstead said, in Clendenin, it will likely take months to clean up and rebuild- every business in town is closed due to storm damage and the infamous old school Dairy Queen collapsed when moving water swept through the town, but he believes the town will come back.

“This is a wonderful little town and I think most of the people here want to stay and they’ve lived here, I mean, most of us who live in the Elk River area have lived here, generations of our family have lived here and people don’t want to leave. So, we’re hoping that we can put it back together and work hard to keep everybody here.”