W. Va. Flooding Victims Return Home To Stinking Sludge West Virginia residents continue the clean-up from record floods, while some have no homes to return to. Also, another round of storms on Monday hit some of the places that were already flooded.

W. Va. Flooding Victims Return Home To Stinking Sludge

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/483811521/483811522" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


West Virginia just can't get a break. Thunderstorms swept across that state overnight. And with those storms came even more rain. The latest storms struck places where at least 23 people died and hundreds of homes were destroyed by flooding on Friday. Thousands of people there are just now getting power back. NPR's Rebecca Hersher has more on residents' efforts to clean up.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: On Monday morning, Linda Rhodes returned to her flooded home for the first time.

LINDA RHODES: They lost everything down here.

HERSHER: Her basement is full of stinking sludge. Outside in the garage, the waterline is 8 feet high.

RHODES: Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It ain't no good. There's my truck.

HERSHER: Her pickup truck is covered in mud. The garage smells like gasoline. She wants to start cleaning, but there's still water coming in. It's raining again.


HERSHER: But Rhodes doesn't want to sit around and wait for the weather. The cleanup will come later. For now, she goes up the street to help her brother with his FEMA application.


RECORDED VOICE: You have reached the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

HERSHER: FEMA is working on registering hundreds of people who lost homes and businesses. By far the easiest way to apply is with a phone or computer. But a lot of people have lost those things. Rhodes' brother, John, dropped his phone in the water when he was escaping from his trailer on Saturday. Now he's hoping the federal government will cover the cost of replacing that, all his clothing and his car. They've decided Linda will apply on his behalf. To do that, she answers about 20 minutes' worth of questions. She keeps taking deep breaths to keep from getting flustered.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Was the damage from flood or mudflow?


HERSHER: At the end, the representative says they should find out if he's getting relief money within a month.

RHODES: Did I do that right?


HERSHER: Linda and her brother high-five, and she goes on the porch for a cigarette. It's still raining on her town.

RHODES: God bless all these people, more rain.

HERSHER: The governor has asked the federal government to get people back in their homes as quickly as possible. And the National Guard has continued to pick up debris, even in the rain. The forecast for the next two days here is sunny. Rebecca Hersher, NPR News, Greenbrier County, W.Va.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.