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'Wall of water' hits WV

Rob Gillespie was glad to escape with his life last week when an 8-foot wall of water cascaded into his home.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | CHARLESTON, W.V. | June 23, 2003

Rob Gillespie was glad to escape with his life last week when an 8-foot wall of water cascaded into his home.

Gillespie lost all three of his vehicles and nearly all of his belongings in the flash flooding that submerged Two Mile Creek, just north of the Charleston city limits on Rutledge Road.

The last major flood to come through this hollow killed seven people in 1961. Some of those killed died right on Gillespie's property, he said.

Both Gillespie and his wife, Cindy, were at home at 8 a.m. June 16 when the water rose to more than eight feet above the normally dry ground.

Gillespie illustrates this by pointing to two of his cars, one stacked on top of the other in his front yard just the way the water left them.

"You couldn't see either one of those cars," he said.

The water came rushing down the hollow in a matter of minutes, Gillespie said, after a massive mudslide swept down the mountainside just behind his house.

There had been flooding on Two Mile Creek in the past, he said, but the three dams upstream from his house "had been doing a great job for years." The mudslide on June 16 bypassed that system.

"It just kind of overtook what we have down here," he said.

Gillespie and his wife were trapped in their home. They called 911, but were told that emergency workers couldn't reach them.

When the floodwater began to recede, "we bailed out of here and went to a hotel room over in Charleston." They couldn't get near their home for two days.

Although Gillespie lost nearly everything and will likely have to rebuild his home, he is certain that the damage could have been a lot worse.

He points to two huge tree trunks propped up against a utility pole right next to his house.

Gillespie said that the utility pole, which also bears an American flag, managed to hold the trees in place. If the pole had fallen, the pole and the tree trunks could have smashed into his house, knocking it off its foundation. That utility pole must have been planted pretty deep, he said.

"So kudos to the power company here in West Virginia," he said.


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