Flood in Williamson, WV 1977

As told by L.W. Buckland, Jr.

In April 1977, Buddy was working on a train that had laid over in Williamson, West Virginia. There was a flood in the coal fields which trapped the train and its crew for four days, from Sunday night until Wednesday morning. The crew was stranded on the 3rd floor of the Mountaineer Hotel. Flood waters were 20 feet deep in the street and on 2nd Avenue the water was up to the 2nd story of the hotel. Beside the hotel was the Chamber of Commerce where there is/was a coal carved statue of an Indian. All of that was under water.

Buddy and some of his crew found mesh wire from an antenna on the roof and got 2×4’s to make fishing nets. They caught items floating in front of the hotel. In fact, they fished out food in cans and plastic, enough to feed 90 people during the stay. Crew members fished out beer, whiskey and cigarettes. Carlton Whitley, brakeman on the job, even fished out a tire that fit his truck. (Dad fished out some metal lawn chairs that Mom still uses on her front porch.)

When the water subsided, the men waded out with garbage bags on their legs and made it to the Salvation Army, setup in the school.

Microwave (?) phone systems had just gone into effect. Buddy heard Supt. Stephens on the phone and spoke with him – resulting in Robert Buckland coming to Williamson to pick up the crew.

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