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Mountain Memories Books

Flood and the Blood

Flood and the Blood

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The Mountain State of West Virginia has experienced more than its share of devastating floods. Rugged terrain and severe weather make for a dangerous combination. Even a brief torrential rain can inundate narrow hollows and turn rippling creeks into raging deluges in minutes. This occurred in dramatic fashion southeast of Charleston on Cabin Creek in 1916 and Paint Creek in 1932.
In the 1980s, historian and author J. Dennis Deitz interviewed survivors of the 1932 Paint Creek flood. In The Flood and the Blood, first published in 1988, they share their memories of the dreadful night of July 10-11, 1932, when a cloudburst transformed the typically serene Paint Creek into a deadly wave that killed nearly 30 and left thousands homeless. They talk about their fears, daring escapes, and friends lost forever. Hitting in the darkest throes of the Great Depression, the flood swept away the few things people had left. For the survivors, the trauma never went away, as Betty Kate Davenport recollected 55 years after that night: "I don't think anyone who was in the flood ever really got over it."
Just a few miles away from Paint Creek is Cabin Creek, also made up of coal-mining communities. By the 1980s, few people were still alive who could remember the 1916 Cabin Creek flood, but Deitz tracked down a handful that recalled it clearly. In that instance, almost six inches of rain fell in less than five hours. The surging creek killed an estimated 71, making it West Virginia's deadliest flood attributable to natural causes; the 1972 Buffalo Creek Disaster, in which 125 perished in floodwaters, was due to a collapsed coal waste dam.
In addition, Deitz dedicates chapters to other facets of the region's turbulent history: the 1912-13 Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Mine War, which was one of the deadliest struggles in U.S. labor history, and historic coal mine disasters close to those streams. The book concludes with an account of miner Bill Derenge's terrifying yet inspirational story of surviving explosions at Eccles and Layland, two of West Virginia's deadliest mine disasters.

The Flood and the Blood vividly stresses the dangers people living in West Virginia's coalfields have faced on a day-to-day basis. Deitz skillfully brings these stories together in the words of the people who lived them, demonstrating their remarkable resilience in moments of inconceivable crises.

Author: Dennis Deitz
Publisher: Mountain Memories Books
Published: 03/07/2023
Pages: 288
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 1.48lbs
Size: 11.00h x 8.50w x 0.60d
ISBN: 9780938985358

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