GLEN JEAN

Bob Evans' friends stare at him in disbelief when he tells them he was flooded on July 8. "You live on a mountain," they say.

    Yes, Evans' home is about the highest in the small community of Glen Jean, on the edge of the New River Gorge park area. And until a year ago, it was sheltered by a mountainside of forest. No more, and that may well be the reason that the highest house got the most flooding.

    You see the clear cutting as soon as you turn off Route 19 towards Glen Jean and, nine miles further, Thurmond. There, towering above the historic Bank of Glen Jean building and signs to the New River recreational area, the mountain has been clear cut. A fringe of trees remains at the top because they are in the cemetery for the church in the community.

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    Ronnie Stevens lives on the west side of the mountain, on a hillside about a mile above the restored bank building. The clearcut hillside towers above his home. "I wasn't paying much attention," he said. "Then one day I came around the corner and said Oh my goodness gracious what is happening."

     Ronnie Stevens describes the timbering.

    Stevens was born in the house where he lives now. He did a stint in the mines, first for Westmoreland and Beckley Coal in Boone County and later for a contractor for A.T. Massey. Yet in his own town, he's never seen anything like the timbering behind his house. The mountains behind Glen Jean had been mined in the 1960s and 1970s, but the extent wasn't as glaring or visible.

    During the first heavy rains of the summer, he believes the open hillside added to the runoff and debris flow in Dunloup Creek, which joins the New River near Thurmond. However, the July 8 rains seemed to send more water over to the other side of the mountain, where Bob Evans lives.                 

    Misfortune has visited the Evans family more than once in the past few years. They bought the house on nearly three acres, including the mineral rights, in 1993. It backed up to the mountain, with a rolling lawn down the hillside. Then the house burned to the ground in 1999. Evans blames it on faulty wiring that existed when he bought it. They replaced the house with a double-wide trailer. Everything was fine until the floods of 2001.

    The clearcutting is so close to Evans' home that he can reach it with a three-minute walk. So he knew just what was going on behind his house. The entire mountainside had been stripped of trees, an area even larger than that on the side above Stevens' home. All that remain are piles of tree stumps and dried up branches and leaves. Green undergrowth has pushed up between the rubble.

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                Bob Evans                                     Bob Evans at the clear cut behind his house.

    A road was cut around the middle of the mountain, like a belt. It had water bars to drain the water off the road and down the hillside. However, the loggers also cut a new road straight up the side of the road closest to his house. That intersected with a short road behind his house that had been the access road to the graveyard. He had never paid the road much mind, that is until the floods of July 2001.

    First, the water washed off the clearcut hillside and new road and onto the road behind Evans' home. It rushed out the little road like a wave breaking through a dike. The water roared into the trailer, which was three feet off the ground, soaking the floors and ruining the porch. A second storm brought another wave of water down. This time it eroded the water line and dropped boulders along the way. The water line was broken and ruined. Evans had to spend weeks digging up the water line by hand. He also had 27 loads of dirt hauled out of his yard.

  Bob Evans explains how the water came down the roads below to his house.

 

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                       The new road up the hill.          Ronnie Stevens and Evans walk down the road to his house.

    He and his wife have been trying to get help. FEMA promised him a reiumbursement of $10,000. So far, he has received less than a third of the money. FEMA told him to talk to the logging company. They have refused to do anything, Evans said. He put dirt at the end of the road off the mountain and dug a ditch to divert the water down the hill.

    "Who would have ever known a man could get flooded on a mountain," he said.

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                                                            The new water line that Evans had to dig.