HOTCHKISS           

 

            Mandy Burchfield looks small alongside the piles of rocks in her backyard in Hotchkiss in the southeast corner of Raleigh County.

            Her house is on the south side of Hotchkiss, a small community about the size of several city blocks. The house is up on the hill and at least half a mile from the Slab Fork River, which eventually flows through Maben to Mullens. Like Bessie Presley in Leckie in McDowell County, Mandy Burchfield is an elderly woman, living alone in what would seem to be a place well above the flood plain.

            But just like Presley, Burchfield’s home is beneath a timbering job. The road to the job leads up the hill several hundred feet from her house. Her daughter said the timbering was done a year or two ago. Now a mine is working up on the mountain.

 

 

The road that leads from Mandy Burchfield's yard to the timbering and mining area.

            The morning of the flood, rocks started rolling down the hillside. They landed all over Burchfield’s yard and alongside the back of her house. Her garden was destroyed, but fortunately her house had no major damage. The coal company has helped clean up her yard.

The flood carried a large amount of rocks, trees and scrap logs into Mandy Burchfield's yard and even under her house.

            Timbering isn’t all that is going on in Hotchkiss either. At the north end of the community, houses were bought out in order to place a sediment pond for a preparation plant. Now the pond sits about 500 feet from the homes. Its dam is small, compared to most others, only about 20 feet high. However, a wide ditch has been cut from the dam, alongside the community and out to the road, eventually leading to Slab Fork. It appeared to have been dredged to clean out debris from the floods, with high banks of rocks and mud lining the small stream.