As you drive down the mountain on Route 97, just east of the intersection with Route 54 in Maben, a sea of destruction appears along the creek on the right hand side.
An older homestead with a carefully kept sweeping landscape now looks out on a wave of logs and rocks. For the next mile, the road rides a cliff alongside the mountain, and the houses on the right are far beneath. The last driveway before the intersection juts back sharply to the right. It leads to a group of four homes alongside the stream.
A month after the July 8 flood, the acre of land between the road off the highway and the homes is still strewn with logs and rocks. Some remain lodged in the stream.
Half a mile further down the highway, at the intersection with Route 54, was journeys end for tons of mud, rocks and logs. They remain lodged around an old house near the edge of the creek, fixed with the same sticky permanence as peanut brittle. A little further away, the creek joins Slab Fork as it flows towards Mullens. It is clear that the runoff down this mountain creek added a heavy load to the already high water heading to the center of Mullens.
Freda Meadows has lived for a quarter century in the small group of houses off that driveway with the sharp right. Her daughter and son-in-law live in a nearby home. The cause of the flood in her creek is obvious. "All you have to do is look in every hollow. Every hollow is washed out," she said. "I dont blame anyone but the loggers and the coal mines." Her son-in-law said the mountain on the east had been timbered two years ago, the one on the west three years earlier. No evidence could be seen from the valley, but he believed it would be obvious from a helicopter.
"I know God put this timber her to be used. But I think it should be done the right way," Freda said. "She is concerned that the creeks are still fill of debris. "They need to get in there and open them up. If the water starts again, the creeks are damned up."
Freda lost 75 feet of her yard to the mad water in the creek. "The companies dont have any concern for the people," she said. "I think the people in West Virginia should take the land back from those outsiders and take care of it."
Freda Meadows' community. The washout in the creek just below the houses.
Listen to Freda Meadows' son-in-law describe the timbering and the flooding.