On Monday, June 27, I was driving through the mountains of West Virginia on I-79, en route from Brooklyn to Lexington, KY. The sky was dark and rain had begun, radio weather reports issuing travel advice with more urgency than usual. When alerts blared simultaneously from the radio and my phone, warning of flash floods as torrents of rain hit my windshield, I gripped the wheel, wondering what, exactly, I was supposed to do and where I was supposed to go, and how much danger I might really be in.
Those feelings were nothing compared to those of the residents of the area, whose homes and lives had, days before, been inundated with flash floods that killed two dozen people and washed away entire communities.
“It was terrifying,” said a volunteer at a relief distribution center just off exit 19, the exit for Clendenin, one of the hardest hit areas. The wife of a soldier in the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard, which had been deployed to clear debris and assist with disaster relief, Jessie preferred not to give her last name, but on Thursday morning June 30, a week after the initial storms, she described what she had seen.
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