Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 6, 2014

Panther man’s home washed off foundation, ruined by raging water

PANTHER — Denver Hunt stared at what Mother Nature can do to a cherished home when she decides to flex her muscles. An odor not unlike wet beach sand filled the air, and he wondered if he could get somebody to scrape away the heavy layer of mud locking his pickup truck in the driveway.

“Well, I’m here,” he replied somberly when asked how he was doing.

Hunt, 75, whose manufactured home sat near a fork in Bull Creek, had heard flooding was possible. It was about 1 a.m. Thursday when a neighbor called and warned him that the water was rising fast.

“She said, ‘You’d better get out of the house, here comes the flood,’” Hunt said.

It turned out to be good advice. A powerful surge of water washed his home off its foundation and moved it at least 10 feet. The yard was beneath a layer of mud, and a chain link fence had been smashed down by the water’s force, leaving a strip of fencing tangled in weeds and other debris. Hunt let visitors from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph look inside.

Visitors had to step over the foundation, now filled with dirty water. The living room was under a thick, slippery layer of mud that almost swallowed shoes going through it. Every room of the single-story home had been flooded. Furniture, all of it dirty from the flood, had floated out of position.

Outside, neighbors were helping each other clean up their property while others passed by in cars or on ATVs to see the damage. Ginger Cline, 38, of Panther pulled up on an ATV.

“Looks like you took the hardest hit,” she said to Hunt, adding Thursday’s flood was still not as bad as one that hit McDowell County in 2002.

“I’m so glad I don’t live in Bull Creek anymore,” added Candi Prater, 25, of Panther. She had lost a lot during the 2002 flood.

Hunt was considering his options. “I’ll hunt a place somewhere, I’ll hunt up a place until I get situated.”

His home had been on that site since 1981, and seeing the damage was hard for him.

“I told them all this morning that I felt like jumping in the creek,” he said in the ruined living room, fighting back emotion. “My life has been in this house, and I’ll never get it back.”

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