RECORD-BREAKING FLOOD STRIKES CALHOUN IN 1967 - 50 Years Have Gone By

(03/10/2017)

Fifty years ago in March, a historical flood struck Calhoun with a record crest of the Little Kanawha River at 43.90 feet.

- This account transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle. - Photos courtesy of David Lee Hickman (Grantsville) and Irene Burrows Siers (Cabot Station).

3/9/1967 - Monday night will long be remembered by many residents of Grantsville as a time of great upheaval. It was a time of unexpected moving, much of it done during a heavy downpour of rain.

The Little Kanawha invaded most of the low-lying parts of the town, some places flooded for the first time, and many families suddenly homeless in the middle of the night.

An almost steady downpour of rain had started Saturday and continued until early Tuesday morning where melting snow had already left a fairly well soaked ground. Most of the old time river-watchers were agreed though that the river rose much more rapidly than usual and that these flood waters were just about as large as those of the previous record floods of 1918 and 1937.

Comparison to a fine point with previous big floods was impossible because of changes made in the roads and in the levels of the streets. Boats were used up and down Mill street as in 1939 and some of the same buildings were flooded.

Members of the Grantsville fire department, the Army Reserve unit, and many other volunteers labored throughout the night to move people and their possessions out of the way of rising water, and the moving continued until about noon Tuesday. The flood crest came finally about five o'clock Tuesday afternoon when water had finally covered Mill Street, River Street, all of North Grantsville, all of the bottom of the South Side, and all low lying land in the area. Many families were out of their homes, far too many to be listed.

State Route 5 was covered at both ends of the town. At the upper side it was covered just east of the Grantsville bridge, while at the lower end o town Rt. 5 was blocked just below the intersection of River Street. Rt. 16 remained pen although it was one way traffic at the south end of the bridge traffic circle. Both side roads, one leading to Stumptown and the other going down North Side were completely covered. Many spectators came on Rt. 16 to view the high water.


Court Street area where Calhoun Banks drive-in now stands


Mill Street in area where Calhoun public library now stands


Florence Street area, frequently flooded section near Mill St.

Much of the loss must be bourn by homeowners of the Grantsville area. Some decided to start early in the evening with their moving, and this proved wisest. Those who waited, or merely raised furniture to a higher level still lost heavily as the water became deeper and deeper. Some persons thought that the flood would not reach them because it had not done so in previous raises and in some cases they lost just about everything.

Several of the business places of Grantsville were flooded, including those at the lower end of Court Street, along Mill Street and River Street. Among those with water in the main floor were Grantsville Garage, Grantsville News, S and S Car Wash and Speedy Wash, and Consolidated Supply had damage to their lower floor and smaller buildings. Several families took refuge in the Speedy Wash but they had to move on because of the water.

The store of Mrs. Mary Barr Wallace, near the high school, had water near to the ceiling, and water was several feet deep in the W.B. Gibson store building. Murray Chevrolet had a flooded shop, and several older used cars on their lot were left standing in rather deep water. The Consolidated Gas Supply (Hope) office was flooded, along with their other buildings.

There was approximately three feet of water in the main floor at Rubber Fabricators plant above the town. Employees there stored everything movable on the second floor, and all available empty trailers were filled with finished products and moved to the highway.

Ross Perry, plant manager, said that while much was moved, it was impossible to get everything, and that employees had stayed all through the night trying to save as much as possible before finally leaving in the early morning via their own manufactured products of inflated rubber boats. For those who could snatch a few moments of rest before daylight there were plenty of another product, inflated rubber mattresses.

While most persons had ample time to get out on their own power, the late stayers were rounded up in boats or in the large Army vehicles belonging to the local Military Police platoon. Many persons worked throughout Monday night and on into the day Tuesday without stopping for sleep, helping everyone as best they could. Much furniture was moved, stored in various buildings, the two hotels were full and residents opened their homes to the homeless. The Riverside Motel, below town was flooded by 10 p.m. Monday night. Some of the stores were closed all day Tuesday because of the extraordinary amount of moving done all through the night.

On down river many homes along Rt. 5 were flooded, and the swinging bridge just above Cabot Station was washed away by the swift current. A small garage on the rear of the Albert Stump property was washed down river until it hit the Buck Westfall home with a loud crash.


Hope Compressor Station at Cabot Station


Cabot Station Homes


Rt. 5 Blocked by Floodwaters


Cabot Station School


Multi-stall Garage at Cabot Station


Belongings Moved to Higher Ground

Upriver along Rt. 5 toward Glenville was also flooded, and the town of Glenville suffered severe damage in the business section where water was reported several feet deep.

Schools of the county were in session only one hour on Monday morning when the rapid rise of the river called for quick curtailment of activity. The school bus garage on the South Side was soon flooded and by the time the crest had been reached those busses which had been parked in front of the high school were axle deep in water.

Damages are hard to estimate until clean-up and repairs are made. Purchases of brooms, mops and cleaning supplies were started Tuesday for what can be called a major disaster to many residents of Grantsville.

HISTORICAL FLOODS RECORDED AT GRANTSVILLE:

(1) 43.90 ft on 03/07/1967

(2) 43.10 ft on 04/17/1939

(3) 42.87 ft on 11/05/1985

(4) 40.34 ft on 03/02/1997

(5) 39.50 ft on 12/15/1949

(5) 39.50 ft on 12/15/1948

(7) 39.47 ft on 02/02/1951

(8) 39.42 ft on 11/20/2003

(9) 38.76 ft on 01/26/1978

(10) 38.73 ft on 02/19/2000


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