This Flood-Savaged Hamlet Proves Climate Change Isn’t Just a Coastal Concern
Nine inches of rain nearly wiped Richwood, West Virginia, off the map. As waters rise around the globe, this tiny town offers a terrifying vision of our future—if we don’t act.
Photo by Jeromy Rose
Nancy Mullins was working at the Richwood, West Virginia, nursing home on June 23, 2016, when the town began to flood. Her first thought was for her two daughters, who were back at home, a block from the swollen Cherry River. She sped home, got them to safety, then drove back to work in her husband’s truck, through roads already submerged in flood water.
When the town flooded in 2003, the nursing home had moved residents to the rear of the building. They planned to do the same today, but Mullins had seen the flood.
“We’ve got to get these people out of here,” said Mullins, 41, who opens her arms to everyone. A school bus driver commandeered two buses to transport 95 residents several blocks to Liberty Baptist Church. As they moved the residents onto the buses, the water was over Mullins’ knees, and in the laps of the residents in wheelchairs.
Panic set in. Some co-workers froze. But Mullins became a general in the rescue battalion.
“It was like slow motion,” she says. …
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