Clendenin: five years after the 2016 floods

Local News

CLENDENIN, WV (WOWK) – This week, marks five years since the 2016 floods, that devastated many parts of West Virginia, and claimed the lives of 23 people.

Clendenin was one of the hardest-hit areas. Although there are many projects in the works, Clendenin is still without a school, a bank, and a grocery store.

“It was horrible. I mean we just basically had to start from the ground up,” said Diana Chandler, a Clendenin resident. Chandler goes on to say, “It was like a war zone in here I mean there was nothing it devastated the whole town.”

One of the places still up and running is Momma Payne’s Diner.’ The owner, Andrea Underwood, says business post-flood has been a struggle. “Some days, we do outstanding business. Some days we hardly have any business, so you just have to take the good with the bad and hope that the community continues to support us to where we can stay open.”

When residents get word of impending weather coming to their area, people dining in say it’s worrisome. “I have a neighbor who has a granddaughter and when she comes up to visit and it starts to rain, she wants to go home,” said Renee Lepley, a Clendenin resident.

But there is some hope for the town; through kayaking, hiking and biking along the elk river, they gain some tourists. Steven Grau, who owns elk river getaway says, he is seeing record numbers. “2020 was Covid and then by the time the Governor opened up, we got slammed. So we doubled the short period of time from 2019 to 2020 and now we’re in 2021 and we’re already selling out.”

Five years later, with the town still recovering from the 2016 floods, residents say sticking together is what will get them through it.

“We’ve come a long ways in five years, and I think eventually we will bounce back we just have to stay strong, and stay together and I think we’ll be fine in the long run.”

Andrea Underwood

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